First Edition: Jane Eyre

Is there a more iconic novel than Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte? Beloved by generations of teenage girls who identify with the eponymous Jane, her suffering, her fortitude and generosity, Jane Eyre also plays a key role in the acceptance of female authors. Bronte famously submitted the novel to her publisher under the pseudonym Currer Bell.

First editions of Jane Eyre by Currer Bell are available rarely for sale. See [above] the title page of the first issue which did not include a preface by the author, something remedied in the second edition; you can read the preface here, the book is held by the British Library. The most recent sale of a first edition [above] was at Bonhams, London in 2013 for £39,650. Jane Eyre

A three-volume edition published by London, Smith Elder & Co [above], available at Peter Harrington, is for sale [at time of going to press] for £4,500. This is a third edition; given the popularity of the novel when it was first published, around October 19, 1847, it was quickly followed by second and third editions on January 22, 1848 and April 15, 1848 respectively. This particular edition attracts a high price as there are a number of typographical errors that make it unique.

Another example of how a printer’s error can boost the price of a book is the 2012 Penguin Classics edition [below] which is wrongly credited on the spine as being written by Emily Bronte. At the time of going to press, this hardcover edition was for sale at Amazon for £199.99.

The story
When the novel starts, Jane is 10 and living with her maternal uncle’s family. Her uncle has since died. Mistreated by her relatives, Jane’s only comfort is a doll and some books. She is sent to Lowood Institution, a charity school for girls. The life at Lowood is harsh but Jane makes a friend, Helen Burns. During an outbreak of tuberculosis, Helen dies and the director’s maltreatment of the girls is discovered; conditions subsequently improve. On leaving Lowood, Jane secures a position as governess at Thornfield Hall to the ward of the mysterious Mr Rochester.

The film
Many film and television versions of Jane Eyre have been made, starting in 1910 with a silent movie [below] produced by the Thanhouser Company and starring Marie Eline as Jane and Frank H Crane as Mr Rochester. Unfortunately the reel of this is presumed lost. Jane Eyre
The most recent adaptation in 2011 starred Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. Watch the trailer hereJane Eyre

Other editions

Jane Eyre
‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte [UK: Penguin Classics]

If you like old books, check out these:-
‘Jurassic Park’ by Michael Crichton
‘The Hobbit’ by JRR Tolkein
‘An Ice Cream War’ by William Boyd

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition: JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte #oldbooks via @SandraDanby

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