Jane Austen’s Annotated Copy of Isaac D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature to be Auctioned

Rare book with Austen’s annotations sheds light on her literary preoccupations

An exceedingly rare copy of Isaac D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature, which was owned and annotated by Jane Austen, is set to be auctioned next month. The book, a popular collection of anecdotes and observations on history and literature, is believed to contain underlined sections that relate to themes found in Austen’s novels. This remarkable piece of history offers insights into Austen’s reading preferences and her writing process. The auction, hosted by Sotheby’s, marks the first time the copy and its annotations will be seen publicly.

A Window into Austen’s Literary World

The annotated copy of Curiosities of Literature provides a fascinating glimpse into Jane Austen’s literary world. Austen’s signature and pencil underlinings can be found in various sections of the book, including “On the Fair-Sex Having No Souls,” “The Absent Man,” “Grotius,” “On the Adjective ‘Pretty’,” “Astrology,” “English Ladies,” and “Spanish Monks.” These annotations offer valuable insights into Austen’s interests and the themes she explored in her own works.

Connections to Austen’s Life and Novels

One particularly intriguing section that Austen underlined is “English Ladies,” in which D’Israeli quotes Gilles Ménage. The passage discusses how the daughters and wives of clergy members in England are often found in public places due to the financial stability offered by marrying a clergyman. This connection is significant as Austen’s father was a clergyman, and each of her novels features a clergyman character. These characters often provide the heroines with economic and domestic stability, reflecting Austen’s own experiences and observations.

A Major Rediscovery

Dr. Kalika Sands, an international specialist at Sotheby’s, describes the annotated copy of Curiosities of Literature as a “major rediscovery” and emphasizes the significance of its appearance at auction. The book not only sheds light on Austen’s reading habits but also offers valuable insights into her writing process. The annotations provide a deeper understanding of the themes and ideas that captured Austen’s attention and influenced her own works.

An Auction of Literary Treasures

The annotated copy of Curiosities of Literature is expected to attract significant attention from collectors and Austen enthusiasts alike. It is estimated to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 (£79,682 and £119,522) when it goes up for auction on December 8th. The book will be auctioned alongside a full suite of first editions of all of Austen’s published works, making this a truly remarkable event for literary enthusiasts and collectors.


The upcoming auction of Jane Austen’s annotated copy of Isaac D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature is a rare opportunity to delve into the mind of one of the most beloved authors in literary history. The book’s annotations provide valuable insights into Austen’s reading preferences and the themes that resonated with her. This remarkable discovery not only adds to our understanding of Austen’s literary world but also highlights the enduring fascination with her life and works. As this unique piece of history goes under the hammer, it serves as a reminder of the lasting impact Austen has had on literature and the enduring allure of her legacy.






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