Teri Wilson
July 30, 2015 11:14 am

Volunteers at a charity bookshop in the UK recently stumbled upon a rare Victorian edition of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride & Prejudice, buried in a pile of old books. The literary treasure was among books that had been donated to a bookstore run by Oxfam in Preston, Lancashire, England.

Oxfam (short for Oxford Committee for Famine Relief) works worldwide to help end poverty. Adam Grayson, manager of the store where the Austen book was discovered, told the Portsmouth News that, “Any money that we raise from the shop goes to supporting Oxfam’s quick action team that go and help in crisis situations just like after the Nepal earthquake.”

The beautiful Austen edition is valued at around 450 pounds (around $675). Were they surprised to find something so valuable in a box of donated books? Yes. A team of five volunteers only began sifting through books a week ago and found the copy of Pride & Prejudice within the first few days. Kinda makes you wonder what else is lurking around in those boxes, doesn’t it?

In the past two years, the shop has also found an 1896 copy of Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and a first UK edition of the Great Gatsby. Be still my book-loving heart, old sport!

The Austen book is a “peacock edition” of Pride & Prejudice, published in London in 1894, 77 years after the cherished author died. But it’s widely considered to be the most collected of all the Pride & Prejudice reprints. The completely gorgeous gilt cover is no doubt an homage to our fave literary hero, Mr. Darcy, who was as proud as a peacock . . . before he found true love with Elizabeth, of course.

The cover was designed by Victorian artist Hugh Thomson, who also illustrated all six of Austen’s novels, as well as many, many other literary classics. His special gold book bindings were favorites as Christmas gifts during the Victorian era.

We can certainly see why! The book is beyond beautiful, and its recent discovery at Oxfam just might have us looking twice the next time we’re in a used book store.

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[Images via Amazon] 

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