London: George Allen. Hard Cover. 1894. First Edition. Near Fine.
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson. First edition. Original publisher's undecorated smooth dark green cloth, white glazed paper spine label, edges uncut, housed in green custom clamshell box with titles in gilt to spine. Very good or better with a bit of soiling to spine, very gentle lean to spine, lightly toned label to spine, some spotting to a few text leaves, and ownership signature to front free endpaper. An excellent copy of an extremely scarce version of this book. Gilson E78. The Hugh Thomson illustrated edition of Pride and Prejudice was released in three versions. The most well-known of these is the "cloth gilt" version with a peacock design to the cover and all edges gilt. The other two are the "edges uncut" version, which is what this copy is, and the "large paper" version. The "edges uncut" and "large paper" versions, released in limited quantities and made specifically for custom binding, are much harder to find than the "cloth gilt" version. The Hugh Thomson edition contains 160 illustrations completed in Thomson's signature pen and ink style. The illustrations include headpieces, tailpieces, initials, and other various decorations. Although it was first published almost a century after the first edition, it is cherished because the illustrations grasp the zeitgeist of the waning Victorian Era. After illustrating Pride and Prejudice, Thomson went on to create illustrations for the rest of Austen's five novels: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Northanger Abbey (1818) and Persuasion (1818). Austen's second work, Pride and Prejudice, is her most famous and one of the most popular books ever written. The unforgettable story of the Bennet sisters quickly sold out of the first printing, and remains a beloved novel today over 200 years after its first publication. Austen was highly praised by Sir Walter Scott, among others, for her proficiency in describing human emotions and the complexity of relationships. Pride and Prejudice established Austen as one of the most relevant and important female writers of her time, and its popularity is a prime example of why she is so highly regarded even today. Indeed, in his introduction to this edition, noted critic George Saintsbury declares "unhesitatingly" that Pride and Prejudice is "the most perfect, the most characteristic, and the most eminently quintessential of its author's works."