One of Jane Austen’s earliest buyers revealed as Prince Regent – who she ‘hated’

Archives reveal that the future King George IV had a taste for fiction, and bought Sense and Sensibility two days before it was first advertised in 1811

In an irony worthy of the great novelist herself, a PhD student has discovered that one of the first purchasers of Jane Austen’s debut novel Sense and Sensibility was the Prince Regent – a man the author despised.

Nicholas Foretek, a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, was delving through Windsor Castle’s Royal Archives as part of his research into 18th-century printing and publications when he came across a bill of sale revealing that the future King George IV bought a copy of Sense and Sensibility for 15 shillings from his booksellers, Becket & Porter. The purchase was made on 28 October 1811 – two days before the first public advertisement for the novel appeared. Published anonymously, Sense and Sensibility was not ...