Jane Austen's Works, Published by Robert Riviere & Son, Five Volume Set, circa 1920

Presented is a beautiful five volume set of “Jane Austen’s Works,” published by Robert Riviere & Son, Ltd. in London, in stunning period bindings. The books were published in the 1920s, reprinted from the 1813 second edition printing of Austen’s works.

This five volume set includes Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Each volume includes an introduction to the respective novel by R. Brimley Johnson and a beautiful color frontispiece illustration by C. E. Brock. The volumes are presented in matching period ¾ red calf leather and marbled boards, with raised bands, gilt titles and stamps to the spine, marbled pastedowns, and gilt top edges.

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favorable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism. Her use of biting irony, along with astute social commentary, have earned her acclaim among critics and scholars.

With the publications of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816), Austen achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818. Her six full-length novels were published anonymously and brought her only moderate success and little fame during her lifetime.

After 1818, Austen’s novels remained out of print for 14 years until the publisher Richard Bentley purchased the rights to all six novels from family members Henry and Cassandra Austen and Austen’s publisher T. Egerton in 1832. In 1833, Bentley issued the first inexpensive editions as part of his “Standard Novels” series. At the time of the Bentley reissues, Jane Austen was still regarded as a niche writer. Only a few hundred copies of her books were published and reprinted over the years. When Bentley’s copyrights expired, other printers began to publish her works, but book sales remained modest. It was not until the publication of her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh’s A Memoir of Jane Austen in 1869, fifty two years after her death, that interest in Jane Austen was renewed.

At the turn of the century, Austen’s popularity soared, with book sales to match. More serious literary analysis placed Austen firmly within the literary canon, elevating her status as a writer worthy of study and analysis. In an 1870 North British Review, Richard Simpson described Austen as a serious critic of English society. Simpson wrote that Austen, “began by being an ironical critic; she manifested her judgment ... not by direct censure, but by the indirect method of imitating and exaggerating the faults of her models. ... Criticism, humour, irony, the judgment not of one that gives sentence but of the mimic who quizzes while he mocks, are her characteristics.” Twenty years later, Godwin Smith published the Life of Jane Austen, the first formal criticism of Jane Austen’s writing in 1890. In 1892, J. M. Dent published the first collected edition of her works to include critical commentary. The first scholarly editions of Austen’s works, edited by R. W. Chapman, were published in 1923. This set, published by Riviere & Sons in the 1920’s, was issued at the height of Austen’s popularity and celebration as part of 19th century literary canon. 

The Riviere Bindery was one of the most notable and prolific shops in England, for over a stretch of 100 years. Robert Riviere set up his business in Bath as a bookseller and bookbinder in 1829. In 1840, Robert moved to London, where the firm traded in the storied West End. His grandson, Percival Calkin, became a partner in 1881 and the firm's name was changed to Robert Riviere & Son.  Percival's younger brother, Arthur, became a partner in 1889 and Arthur's son Stuart Riviere Calkin entered the business in 1908. Many binders who served apprenticeships at Riviere & Sons went on to work in other established bindery firms or to set up on their own. Their work is incredibly respected and collected in the world of rare books.

CONDITION:

5 vols. Octavo printings. Bound uniformly in period ¾ red calf leather and marbled boards, with gilt titles, decorative stamps, and raised bands to spine, and tooling to front and back boards. Top edge gilt. Marbled pastedown and free endpapers. Overall Book Set Dimensions: 7" H x 4 5/8" W x 5" D.

Vol. I: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. London: Robert Riviere & Son Ltd., [no date]. Color frontispiece by C.E. Brock, 1908, with tissue guard. 308 pp. “Bound by Riviere & Son, London” stamped signature inside the front free end page. “Made At The Temple Press Letchworth in Great Britain” stamped on final page. Very clean inside. Toning to the fore edge. Book Dimensions: 7" H x 4 5/8" W x 1" D.

Vol. II: Emma by Jane Austen. London: Robert Riviere & Son Ltd., [no date]. Color frontispiece by C.E. Brock, 1909, with tissue guard. 395 pp. “Bound by Riviere & Son, London” stamped signature inside the front free end page. “Made At The Temple Press Letchworth in Great Britain” stamped on final page. Clean inside. Toning to the fore edge. Book Dimensions: 7" H x 4 5/8" W x 1 1/8" D.

Vol. III: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. London: Robert Riviere & Son Ltd., [no date]. Color frontispiece by C.E. Brock, 1907, with tissue guard. 336 pp. “Bound by Riviere & Son, London” stamped signature inside the front free end page. “Made At The Temple Press Letchworth in Great Britain” stamped on final page. Clean inside. Toning to the fore edge. Book Dimensions: 7" H x 4 5/8" W x 7/8" D.

Vol. IV: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. London: Robert Riviere & Son Ltd., [no date]. Color frontispiece by C.E. Brock, 1908, with tissue guard. 396 pp. “Bound by Riviere & Son, London” stamped signature inside the front free end page. “Made At The Temple Press Letchworth in Great Britain” stamped on final page. Clean inside. Toning to the fore edge. Book Dimensions: 7" H x 4 5/8" W x 1" D.

Vol. V: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion by Jane Austen. London: Robert Riviere & Son Ltd., [no date]. Color frontispiece by C.E. Brock, 1907, with tissue guard. Page numbers restart with each novel. Northanger Abbey 1-206pp. Persuasion 1- 216pp. “Bound by Riviere & Son, London” stamped signature inside the front free end page. “Made At The Temple Press Letchworth in Great Britain” stamped on final page. Clean inside. Toning to the fore edge. Book Dimensions: 7" H x 4 5/8" W x 1" D.




Related Items

Subscribe and save!

Sign up for our emails to receive exclusive flash sales! Get 50% off list price of incredible pieces, only offered to our subscribers.

CLICK TO SUBSCRIBE