Good morning! I hope you’ve been having a lovely week and you’re ready to help Sophie Turner make a big decision today about her next Austen-inspired project. I am really looking forward to the finished version of this eBook, but it needs a cover based on your input.
Without further ado, please help me welcome Sophie Turner to Just Jane 1813…
Thank you so much for hosting me here, Claudine! I’m so excited to be getting close to bringing this project to readers, so they can have an opportunity to read Pride and Prejudice in Jane Austen’s true voice.
I’m not sure if there was anything quite so peculiarly daunting as coming up with a cover for Pride and Prejudice. My goal in doing this digital edition was to take the story back to the 1813 Egerton first edition as much as possible, but books in that time did not have covers as we knew them. They were simply bound (and in many instances rebound, as the binding often went before the pages). Here on the left, for example, is Goucher College’s first edition of Pride and Prejudice.
I wanted to come up with cover images that honored Jane Austen, both in her feelings for her characters, and her original intent. I also wanted to attempt to capture the feel of what a cover would be like if Austen had already been publicly acknowledged as the author of Sense and Sensibility. What would it be like, as a reader, to know there was a new novel out from the author of the work you had so delighted in?
The following are what I produced, and now I’d like readers to help me choose! I should note that these are rough cuts, and therefore final polishing in Photoshop has not been done; it will be for the final cover.
Option A: Jane and Elizabeth I
In one of Jane’s letters to Cassandra, while she was staying in London, she writes, after seeing an exhibition including portraits: “Mrs. Bingley’s is exactly herself — size, shaped face, features, and sweetness; there never was a greater likeness. She is dressed in a white gown, with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I had always supposed, that green was a favourite colour with her. I dare say Mrs. D. will be in yellow.”
Although I don’t like everything about the image I used for this, I wanted to explore it as a possibility because it uses the colors Austen attributed to her characters.
Option B: Jane and Elizabeth II
Again, I partially chose this because it had Jane in green. But I also liked that sisterly moment; clearly, they are preparing for the Netherfield Ball, and Elizabeth is thinking of Mr. Wickham. Here I also began to play with “By the Author of Sense and Sensibility.” While in Austen’s time this was the only thing readers had to go on, as to the novel’s authorship, I thought perhaps it could be used as a piece of merchandising, as though intended to help sell this “new” novel.
This notion of merchandising the book as being written by the author of Sense and Sensibility got me thinking about how Austen’s name was portrayed. When Pride and Prejudice came out, she was not known as the author. But now, when we know full well who she was, and we rank her where she deserves to be ranked amongst authors, perhaps our dear Miss Austen deserves a cover with some swagger. What would it, I wondered, be like, if you cared less that this new novel was Pride and Prejudice, and more that it was the latest from Jane Austen, who’d so wowed you with Sense and Sensibility?
Thus her name is the most dominant aspect of this cover, and second to it is the young lady pictured, who happens to have a very fine pair of eyes. Her dress is, yes, a bit past 1813, but of the many cover “models” I looked at, she felt the most Elizabeth and the most appropriate.
I’m undecided between the two options shown here—one takes the “merchandising” even farther than the other. So if option C is your preference, I’d love to hear in the comments which one of the two you like better.
Option D: Elizabeth and Darcy
As it is roughly Photoshopped now, this, I hope, looks like a plausible version of Elizabeth and Darcy, most likely at Rosings Park, or perhaps even at Lucas Lodge. She plays the piano-forte, while he lingers in the corner and admires her, of course unbeknownst to her.
Unfortunately, the original of the painting had the young lady wearing some sort of ridiculous turban-ish thing in her hair. With a bit of Photoshopping, however, she now has more reasonable hair.
Option E: Elizabeth II
If books did have covers in 1813, I suspect they would have looked more like this, with an illustrated image and printed fonts. And there was something very appealing to me about this image, of a young woman in walking dress; something very Elizabeth in her eyes. Perhaps her clothes are too fine for the daughter of a gentleman with two thousand a-year, but is that not what always happens in book covers, that the rough edges are smoothed, and the clothes a bit better than what the character could truly afford?
Are you having the same difficulties I had when I first saw these choices? I had a challenging time narrowing my choices down to one choice, but that is exactly what we need you to help us do for the publication of this eBook.
Another fabulous aspect of this special project is going to be the cost of this eBook. Sophie is planning to offer this eBook for the lowest price possible at the online vendors where she plans to sell this eBook. This will probably be within the .99 cent price range, but she is still working with the eBook distributors to determine a final cost for this book. Isn’t that exciting?
To vote on your choice of cover, please go to the link shown below:
All voting must be completed by July 12th. The winning cover will be announced shortly after July 12th.
It’s Giveaway Time!
To show our appreciation for your support with this voting process, we are offering a $10.00 Amazon gift card to one Just Jane 1813 reader. To enter this giveaway, please vote on the link in this post and leave a comment on this blog post no later than midnight, ET on July 12th. The winner of this giveaway will be announced on this blog on July 14, 2017.
I’d like to thank Sophie Turner for creating this special eBook edition of Pride & Prejudice. We are also coordinating some great blog posts and book reviews with a great line-up of Austenesque bloggers for July, August, and September to help spread the word about this project. We look forward to seeing readers on this blog tour!