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AUSTEN, Jane (contrib.?); AUSTEN, James.

The Loiterer.

Oxford: Printed for the author and sold by C. S. Rann [others in later parts], 1789-90 Stock Code: 102817
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Who created Sophia Sentiment?

First edition, possibly Jane Austen's first appearance in print. This scarce periodical was written by James and Henry Austen while they were at Oxford. Some scholars have suggested that in issue number 9, the letter signed "Sophia Sentiment" was the work of their sister Jane when she was 14. Although Gilson does not include this work in his Bibliography, there is a strong case that the work was written by Jane Austen. According to the British Library, "critics such as Paula Byrne have noted that there are various correspondences between the letter and Jane Austen's juvenilia. Her early, epistolary novel Love and Freindship sic, for example, has two heroines quite as shallow as Sophia. But other critics, such as Kathryn Sutherland and Claire Tomalin, find it unlikely that Austen would have written a letter so critical of women's reading choices. They suggest that Sophia Sentiment's letter was probably written by one of Austen's brothers."

Even if "Sophia Sentiment" cannot be definitively linked with Jane Austen, the experience her brothers had in printing this work no doubt had some influence on her. Gilson suggests that it was through the publication of The Loiterer that she became acquainted with Egerton of Whitehall (who were the London distributors of this work from the fifth number on) who later published Sense and Sensibility.

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Octavo (208 x 125 mm) in 60 parts, with printed part-titles for each. Contemporary pale tan polished calf, spine divided in 6 compartments by raised bands, red morocco label, other compartments gilt with central flower tools.


Contemporary ownership inscription of R. Ekins at head of front free endpaper. Joints starting, some light chipping and wear, part-title for No. 2 mounted on a stub, Q1 with small marginal tear in corner with loss, marginal worming to a few leaves, a very good copy.


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