28 Oct: Jane Austen and the Profligate Prince

George IV’s impressive Library included all the novels of Jane Austen, for whom he had a particular fondness. But what was not known (until a receipt was discovered in the Royal Archives in 2018) was that the Prince Regent had almost certainly been Austen’s very first customer – buying a copy of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ for 15 shillings on 28th October, 1811.

His admiration for the anonymous 35 year-old author’s work lead to an awkward moment later in her career, when she felt obligated to dedicate ‘Emma’ to His Royal Highness – a task she clearly wished to avoid.

In this episode, Arion, Olly and Rebecca explain why Austen detested her royal patron; reveal the dry first draft of her dedication to him; and consider how the famously promiscuous, indulgent monarch could have so badly misread Austen’s manifesto for moderation…

Further Reading

• ‘One of Jane Austen’s earliest buyers revealed as Prince Regent – who she ‘hated’’ (The Guardian, 2018): https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jul/25/jane-austen-buyer-hated-prince-regent-sense-and-sensibility

• ‘Jane Austen’s First Buyer? Probably a Prince She Hated’ (The New York Times, 2018):


• ‘JANE AUSTEN, PRINCE REGENT & SANDITON’ – excerpt from “Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency” (BBC, 2011):