On Exhibit: September 25 - October 16, 2009
Penn's Rare Book and Manuscript Library holds first editions of most of Jane Austen's novels. Out of one of them, Emma (1816), comes a contemporary watercolor, unauthenticated and wanting any other indications of provenance but looking very much like other, better-attested representations of Austen. We display all five novels, the portrait, and a small selection of other works of her period. Penn''s collection of pre-1820 English fiction is one of the largest outside the United Kingdom. Students and scholars regularly use it as one means of coming to understand Austen in her own fictional context. Radcliffe, Scott, Southey, and several of the gothic novelists whom Austen read or mentions are on display in this tribute to "Jane Austen's Brothers and Sisters in the City of Brotherly Love," the annual general meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, held in Philadelphia this October.