Margaret Sullivan’s book, Jane Austen Cover to Cover, collects dozens of the covers that publishers around the world have concocted for her six major novels; it’s “two hundred years of publication, interpretation, marketing, and misapprehensions.” These six examples of Emma indicate Austen’s singular place in the canon: the covers range from the lurid to the leather bound—highbrow, lowbrow, middlebrow, every brow—with Emma Woodhouse taking on a new look and mien to suit every era. The art provides a fascinating glimpse into a variety of publishing cultures, and it reminds that even our classics are mutable, pitched to appeal to any number of sensibilities, their literary status in constant flux per the dictates of the market.
Hugh Thomson Illustrated Edition, ca. 1895–1903. Photo: The Henry and Alberta Hirshheimer Burke Collection and the Winn Family Collection, Goucher College Special Collections
Laurel Leaf Edition, 1971. Photo: The Henry and Alberta Hirshheimer Burke Collection and the Winn Family Collection, Goucher College Special Collections
Edizioni Sas, 1956.
Harper Teen, 2011.
Abbey Classics, ca. 1950
John Murray’s three-volume first edition, 1816.
Last / Next Article