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First purchase of a Jane Austen novel discovered during Georgian Papers Programme research

Release date: Tuesday, 24 July 2018


A researcher in the Royal Archives has found evidence of the first documented purchase of any novel by Jane Austen.  Sense and Sensibility, Austen's debut novel, was bought by the Prince Regent (later George IV) for 15 shillings on 28 October 1811, two days before the book was advertised as being on sale at all. 

The discovery was made by Nicholas Foretek, a Georgian Papers Programme Research Fellow, while researching the history of 18th-century printing and publication in the Royal Archives.

The Georgian Papers Programme is a partnership between Royal Collection Trust, lead academic partner King's College London and international institutions, including primary US partners the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture, which funded Foretek's Fellowship, and William & Mary.

The Programme will digitise, conserve, catalogue, transcribe, interpret and disseminate 425,000 pages in the Royal Archives and Royal Library relating to the Georgian period, 1714–1837.  The Programme will provide a unique digital resource that is readily accessible to members of the public and researchers to offer new research and interpretation.

For more information on the Georgian Papers Programme, visit