Rare copy of Austen's "Emma" sets auction record

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A rare presentation copy of Jane Austen’s novel “Emma” sold for 180,000 pounds ($353,500), setting a new auction record for a printed book by the British author, auction house Bonhams said on Tuesday.

The book, one of 12 presentation copies, was given by Austen to her friend Anne Sharp, who had been governess to the children of Austen’s brother Edward.

The three-volume set of “Emma” had been expected to fetch between 50,000 and 70,000 pounds.

“The family are delighted with the price fetched today. The novel has been sitting in my family library for at least three generations,” the seller of the book, who wished to remain anonymous, said in a statement.

“Emma,” published shortly before Austen’s death in 1817, explores the life and morals of a young woman, Emma Woodhouse, who appears to like nothing better than to act as local matchmaker, directing the love lives of friends and acquaintances -- not entirely successfully.