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I'd recommend making a backup copy of your current ~/.mozilla folder then go ahead and install version 19 over version 9. You should be fine doing so, but having that backup on hand can't hurt and it can be deleted once you've got Firefox/Thunderbird working the way you want them.
I'm using thunderbird 17.0.4 and no great problems although some of the options in the mozconfig file that allow you to use system installed packages ( notably sqlite ) don't work and the internal ones need to be used.
What I wanted to know was upgrading version9 to 19 was it straight forward
Pretty much though as i said i have only gone to 17 any add-ons/themes etc will have to be upgraded but it should check when you first run it, be warned the layout changed quite a lot from early versions so it doesn't imediatly look the same all my message filters have worked unchanged.