The Philadelphia publisher Mathew Carey, a frequent reprinter of British titles, brought out Emma in two volumes: a more economical format than the three-volume first English edition, which John Murray had released in December 1815 (dated 1816 on the title page). Carey’s edition was printed for him by the firm Justice & Cox of Trenton, New Jersey; neither the print run nor the exact month of publication is known. Why Carey chose to reprint Emma is uncertain. The eminent Austen bibliographer David Gilson has speculated that an influential review of Emma by Walter Scott that appeared in the March 1816 Quarterly Review influenced Carey’s decision. In the absence of international copyright law, there was no need for Austen to be aware of this American edition, and no evidence remains to suggest that she was. The Philadelphia Emma was only belatedly recognized by bibliographers, in part because of the extreme rarity of surviving copies. Geoffrey Keynes’ 1929 Bibliography of Jane Austen lists the 1832-33 publication of all six novels by Carey & Lea of Philadelphia as the first American editions of Austen. David Gilson’s Bibliography of Jane Austen (1982; rev. 1997) does include the Philadelphia Emma, with descriptions of the three copies—one of them Goucher’s—known to him at the time. Three more have since been verified. Even today, the Philadelphia Emma is often unknown to those who are familiar with Austen’s works.
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