“By a Lady”

Two hundred years ago today, on 30 October 1811, the London publisher Thomas Egerton released to the public a three-decker which, its title page noted, had been authored “By a Lady.” The novel, originally titled Elinor and Marianne, had been penned while its author was but a lass. (Actually, the book’s author had penned an even earlier novel, but that novel would not see publication in its author’s lifetime.)

Our three-decker, which cost its anonymous author over a third of her annual income to publish, sold out its initial print run (750 copies) within 19 months, giving the author a modest return of about 30% on her original investment. (The author’s brother, who acted as her literary agent, had no small part in the success of our author’s debut novel, as well as in the success of her subsequent publications.)
SenseAndSensibilityTitlePage.jpgTwo hundred years on, Jane Austen--largely unknown to the general public until after her death in 1817--is widely revered. Early editions of Sense and Sensibility (the First Edition title page, left, is via Wikipedia) routinely sell for enormous sums. And Austen's oeuvre has become so integral a part of English literature that enhancing her work with sea monsters or zombies hardly causes a stir (since it may attract younger readers to her work). 

Today, the bicentennial of Austen's first published work, is thus cause for celebration in many a bookish corner.

Among those no doubt celebrating are folks who concentrate their collecting efforts on but a single title. 

Austen's debut title could easily keep such a collector diligently occupied for several lifetimes.  Aside from the almost-but-not-quite-impossible task of locating an acceptable First Edition in original boards, there are all sorts of editions of Austen's debut title which have been published in difficult-to-obtain fine bindings, fine press editions, collected works, not to mention several obscure translations.

Have any FB&C readers attempted to collect all known editions and translations of Austen's debut title?  Does anyone know of any individual or institution that may have made such an attempt...?
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