Rare Book & Manuscript Madness: Literature Division


Jane Austen – Emma (ELIMINATED IN ROUND 1)

Shelfmark: 823 Au7e1816 v.1

Emma is the fourth novel written by Jane Austen and it took a little over a year for her to write.  The novel was ultimately printed on commission. Austen paid for the advertising and the first print run of 2,000 copies herself after declining John Murray’s offer of £450 for Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park.  Austen did not expect people to like her protagonist, stating at one point, “I’m going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like,” but both the novel and the character of Emma were well received by the critics of Austen’s life time and audiences today.  All of Austen’s novels were published anonymously and her name did not appear on her work until after her death. Will Emma be as big of a success on the court as it was with readers?

Katherine Philips – Poems by the Most Deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips, the Matchless Orinda (ELIMINATED IN ROUND 1)

Shelfmark: 821 P53p1667

Philips was a poet, translator, and woman of letters in seventeenth-century England. Writing at the same time as John Milton, she was also his antithesis in that she was a staunch Royalist who supported the crown during the Long Parliament and the period of the English Civil War. During her lifetime her poetry was incredibly popular but only appeared in print without permission; after her death in 1664, this authorized collection of her poetry appeared, and was much more popular than the works of the newly disgraced Milton. Will Philips defeat this competition with as much grace as she did with Milton?

Phillis Wheatley – Poems on Various Subjects

Shelfmark: 811 W56p

Wheatley is identified as the first African-American poet and the first African-American to make her living through her writing. Born in West Africa, she was enslaved as a child, but subsequently freed after the publication of this book amid popular acclaim and recognition of her literary talents: to many, her art was proof of her humanity as well as the inherent injustice of slavery as an institution. Her work was republished repeatedly in abolitionist literature, and is now considered the foundation of African-American literature.

Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes were Watching God

Shelfmark: IUB02753

Published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God is perhaps Hurston’s best known works in the present era.  Trained as an anthropologist and folklorist at Barnard College under Franz Boas, Hurston spent most of her professional career studying and promoting the study of black culture.  She traveled extensively for her work, most notably to Haiti and Jamaica for her study of African diaspora religions. Their Eyes Were Watching God was inspired by her work in the field and falls at the beginning of a three year period where in she published the three works that marked the high point of her career.


Thank you to Dr. Cait Coker and Katie Hartmann for their contributions!

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