Hard Cover. London: John Murray, 1818. 1st Edition. Very Good.
Four volumes. First edition, first printing. Association copy, previously owned by Louisa Taylor of Bifrons, Kent, with her ownership inscription to the title page of Volume II. Finely bound in blue calf and blue marbled boards, with contrasting maroon title labels to the spines, lettered in gilt, spines decorated in gilt, boards decorated in blind, blue marbled endpapers. Very good, with rubbing to the boards and edges, external hinges of spines reinforced, pages slightly trimmed, former owner Elizabeth Eliot's pencil inscriptions to front endpapers, a few faint and scattered spots to the otherwise fresh pages. A clean and beautiful copy, with an excellent provenance. Housed in a custom navy clamshell box with morocco spine, five raised bands, lettered in gilt. Gilson A9. This copy of Northanger Abbey was previously owned by Louisa Taylor, wife of Edward Taylor, an elected Member of Parliament for Canterbury from 1807-1812 and Jane Austen's first romantic interest. Austen first met Edward Taylor in 1794 while visiting her brother Edward Austen at Rowling, his home near Canterbury. In 1796, she visited Bifrons, the Taylor family's estate, and wrote to her sister Cassandra about "Him, on whom I once fondly doated." In subsequent letters, Austen remarked on Taylor's "beautiful dark eyes," and, although their romance developed little past her infatuation, Taylor clearly left a lasting impression on Austen. Edward Taylor married Louisa Taylor (née Beckington) of Kent in 1802. (Jane Austen the Woman: Some Biographical Insights, George Holbert Tucker, 1994.) Published together posthumously, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are, interestingly enough, Austen's first and last novels, both of which are set in Bath. Northanger Abbey, a satire featuring a young woman with a penchant for Gothic novels, was Austen's first completed work and was originally to be published under the title Susan. In contrast, Persuasion, the story of two sweethearts' second chance at love, was a mature work, which Austen began shortly after completing Emma (1815).