A Preview of Love and Freindship and Other Youthful Writings (Penguin Clothbound Classics), by Jane Austen

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

Collectors of Jane Austen books know that there have been hundreds of different editions of her classic novels created since their original publication (1811-1817). So many, in fact, that only a few of the beautiful and outrageous ones could be featured in the new book Jane Austen Cover to Cover, by Margaret C. Sullivan.

Seventh Book

The recently published Penguin Clothbound Classics series is one of the possibilities to chose from. I am Continue reading “A Preview of Love and Freindship and Other Youthful Writings (Penguin Clothbound Classics), by Jane Austen”

In Her Own Hand: Volume the First, Volume the Second, and Volume the Third, by Jane Austen, introduction by Kathryn Sutherland – A Review

In Her Own Hand 2014 x 200From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

The first time I read a collection of Jane Austen’s juvenilia, I remember relishing the sheer fun and silliness of the stories and plays. It was a slender paperback that included transcriptions of selected works from the original notebooks written from 1787 to 1793. These handwritten notebooks had circulated within Austen’s family during her lifetime and were later given to family members by her sister Cassandra, but the stories were not published until the twentieth century. Because none of Austen’s six completed and published novels exist in manuscript form, these early notebooks are rare examples of her fiction that have survived intact “in her own hand” and reside in the collections of the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Volume the First) and the British Library (Volume the Second and Volume the Third). Continue reading “In Her Own Hand: Volume the First, Volume the Second, and Volume the Third, by Jane Austen, introduction by Kathryn Sutherland – A Review”

Penguin Clothbound Classics: Jane Austen: The Complete Works, 7-Book Boxed Set, Designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

Happy dance in the Jane Austen book world today. With the release of Coralie Bickford-Smith’s new cover design of Love and Freindship and Other Youthful Writings, the Penguin Clothbound Classics set of Jane Austen novels now includes seven books: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey.


Few novelists have conveyed the subtleties and nuances of their own social milieu with the wit and insight of Jane Austen. Through her vivacious and spirited heroines and their circle, she painted vivid portraits of Continue reading “Penguin Clothbound Classics: Jane Austen: The Complete Works, 7-Book Boxed Set, Designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith”

Sanditon, Austen’s last unfinished work is haute at LibraryThing

This was a happy discovery indeed. LibraryThing lists the most requested new title among their December 2009 Early Reviewers choices as Sanditon, Austen’s last and unfinished novel!

Early Reviewers is a service for LibraryThing members who want to receive free advance copies of books in exchange for a review on their blog. To date, this new Hesperus Press edition of Sanditon has garnered 1356 requests (including mine), even beating out the next new Jane Austen paranormal novel Jane Bites Back at 998. 

Sanditon, the last of Austen’s fictional works, was written from January to March 1817 only four months before her death and was first published in 1925 by Oxford University’s Clarendon Press. It is classified as one of her unfinished novels and is usually combined with her other minor works such as The Watsons and Lady Susan. The original manuscript was bequeathed to Anna Austen Lefroy (Jane Austen’s niece) by her aunt Cassandra Austen in 1845 and remained in the Lefroy family until 1930 when it was presented as a gift by Mary Isabella Lefroy (Anna Austen Lefroy’s grand-daughter) to King’s College, Cambridge where the manuscript resides today. 

Other authors have attempted to finish the story with varying degrees of success including Anna Austen Lefroy (1793-1872). Ironically her continuation is also unfinished. Another by Juliette Shapiro is the most satisfying but in another strange twist does not include Jane Austen’s original text. This new edition by Hesperus Press is unabridged with a foreword by A. C. Grayling a Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. 

Publisher’s description: Charlotte Heywood is privileged to accompany Mr and Mrs Parker to their home in Sanditon – not least because, they assure her, it is soon to become the fashionable epicentre of society summers. Finding the town all but deserted, she is party to the machinations of her socially mobile hosts in their attempts to gather a respectable crowd. As Sanditon fills with visitors, Austen assembles a classic cast of characters possessing varying degrees of absurdity and sense. 

Well … who’da thought that it would draw so much interest? 

I am tickled that so many of my fellow LibraryThing book geeks want to read Sanditon, but am quite puzzled by Hesperus Press’ choice of cover art. Is that a chicken’s arse waving at us? I don’t understand the connection. No chickens, hens or fowl mentioned in Sanditon that I can find. At least the wallpaper looks Regency-ish. Geesh!


‘Prayers composed by my dear sister Jane’ – A Thankful Sense of Jane Austen’s Prayers

“Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference. Hear us almighty God, for his sake who has redeemed us, and taught us thus to pray. Amen.” Prayer I, Jane Austen

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Even though Jane Austen never celebrated (that I know of) this American holiday of turkey, football and family, I thought that the stanza from her Prayer I quite apt in giving thanks on this occasion.

In addition to seven novels, poems, juvenilia and letters, three of Jane Austen’s prayers still survive. They were first mentioned as a group in the Times Literary Supplement on the 14th January 1926 as three prayers on two manuscripts. The first manuscript was titled, ‘Prayers composed by my ever dear sister Jane’ with a watermark on the paper from 1818. Since Jane Austen died in 1817, it is believed that it was transcribed by her sister Cassandra. The second manuscript is believed to have been partially in Austen’s hand and partially transcribed by her brother Henry Austen and can not be dated. All three poems were first published in a limited edition together by book collector William Matson Roth in 1940 by Colt Press, San Francisco. He had purchased the two sheet manuscript at auction in 1927 from the descendants of Jane Austen’s brother Charles. Roth donated the manuscripts in 1957 to Mills College in Oakland, California where they now reside.

The Prayers are classified as part of Jane Austen miscellanea and can be found in entirety in The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Minor Works, Oxford World’s Classics Catharine and Other Writings and transcribed online by Ken Roberts. An abbreviated edition of Prayer I written by Jane hangs on the wall in St. Nicholas’ Church, Steventon where Jane’s father George and her brothers James and Henry Austen were rectors at Steventon and she was a member until her father’s retirement and her immediate family’s removal to Bath in 1801.

Further reading

© 2012, Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Catharine and Other Writings, by Jane Austen (Oxford World’s Classics) – A Review

Catharine and Other Writings, by Jane Austen (Oxford World's Classics) 2009“Beware of swoons, Dear Laura …  A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is, I dare say, conducive to Health in its consequences — Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint –”  Letter 14, Laura to Marianne, Love and Freindship 

Jane Austen grew up in the perfect fertile environment for a writer. Her family was highly educated and passionate readers, including novels which were considered by some in the late 18th-century as unworthy. Educated predominately at home, her father had an extensive library of classics and contemporary editions at her disposal. In her early teens, she began writing comical and imaginative stories for her family and close friends as entertainments and transcribing them into three volumes that would later be known as her Juvenilia. The plots and characters of these short stories are filled with unguarded satire, comical burlesque and “splendid nonsense”; — shrewd parodies of contemporary novels, historical figures and even her own family engaged in unprincipled deeds: lying, cheating and occasionally murder. Described by her father as “Effusions of Fancy by a very Young Lady Consisting of Tales in a Style entirely new”  they represent the creative beginnings of a clever and perceptive mind whose skill at keen observation of social maneuverings and the importance of wealth, so valued in her mature works, are apparent from the early beginnings. 

If you have consumed all of Austen’s major and minor novels, this reissue by Oxford University Press of their 1998 edition is an enticing treasure. In Catharine and Other Writings, we are introduced not only to a writer in the making, but a collection of prayers, poems and unfinished fragments of novels written in maturity and rarely reprinted. As with the other Oxford editions of Jane Austen’s works reissued in the past year, this edition contains excellent supplemental material: a short biography of Austen, notes on the text, a select bibliography, a chronology of Austen’s life, textural notes, insightful explanatory notes and a superb introduction by prominent Austen scholar Margaret Anne Doody that details the inspiration from her family and her environment that influenced and formed Austen’s creative mind.  

“Jane Austen was not a child as a writer when she wrote these early pieces. She possessed a sophistication rarely matched in viewing and using her own medium. She not only understood the Novel, she took the Novel apart, as one might take apart a clock, to see how it works – and put it back together, but it was no longer the same clock. Her genius at an early age is as awe-inspiring as Mozart’s.” pp xxxv 

What I found so engaging in this collection was the lightness and comical devil-may-care freeness in Austen’s youthful approach. It was like a rush of endorphin to a dour mood, taking you outside of your troubles and elevating you into a magical world of a youthful imaginings and farcical fancy. I have several favorites that I will re-read when I need a laugh, especially Love and Freindship, The Beautiful Cassandra and The History of England. Not all of the works are comical. When Winchester races  is a verse written when Austen was mortally ill and dictated from her deathbed to her sister Cassandra three days before her death. It is her final work. A moralistic piece, it resurrects the ghost of St. Swinthin who curses the race goers for their sins of pleasure. 

When once we were buried you think we are gone

But behold me immortal! 

An interesting choice of subject for the last days of her life, and ironic in relation to what acclaim she has garnered since she has gone. Like St. Swinthin, Jane Austen is indeed immortal! 

4 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Catharine and Other Writings, by Jane Austen (Oxford World’s Classics)
Edited by Margaret Anne Doody and Douglas Murray
Oxford University Press, USA (2009)
Trade paperback, 424 pages

Run wild through Jane Austen’s Love & Freindship, but do not faint!

Illustration by Joan Hassall, Love and Freindship, The Folio Society (1973)

I have been reading Jane Austen’s Juvenilia and find it delightful. Love and Freindship, (note the original misspelling on friendship) a novella written as an epistolary inscribed “Deceived in Friendship & Betrayed in Love” was dedicated to Madame la Comtesse de Feuillide (Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza Hancock who married a French Count, Jean-Francois Capot de Feuillide) and completed on 13 June 1790 when she was 14 years old. It was first published in 1922, and can often be found in versions of her work entitled “Minor Works“. The misspelling of the third word in the title “freindship” is the customary spelling as it appeared on the original manuscript in Jane Austen’s hand. 

The novella contains 15 letters which begin with the narrator Laura and her friend Isabel, and continue with Laura and Isabel’s’ daughter Marianne. They are in turns hilarious and overly sentimental, a parody of the cult of “sensibility” that Jane Austen would revisit in a more serious light with her novel Sense and Sensibility. Here is one famous passage toward the conclusion, which I find so amusing. 

Beware of fainting-fits… Though at the time they may be refreshing and agreeable, yet beleive me they will in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your Constitution… My fate will teach you this… I die a Martyr to my greif for the loss of Augustus… One fatal swoon has cost me my Life… Beware of swoons, Dear Laura… A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is, I dare say, conducive to Health in its consequences — Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint –“  Letter 14, Laura to Marianne 

Further reading 

*Illustration by Joan Hassall, Jane Austen: Shorter Works, The Folio Society, London (1973) from Sorrow at Sills Bend Blog

Oxford World’s Classics Reveal New Jane Austen Editions

Image of the cover of Emma, by Jane Austen, Oxford World Classic, (2008) “Be satisfied,” said he, “I will not raise any outcry. I will keep my ill-humour to myself. I have a very sincere interest in Emma. Isabella does not seem more my sister; has never excited a greater interest; perhaps hardly so great. There is an anxiety, a curiosity in what one feels for Emma. I wonder what will become of her!”  

“So do I,” said Mrs. Weston gently; “very much.” Mr. Knightley and Mrs. Weston discussing Emma Woodhouse, Emma, Chapter 5 

The Austen book sleuth is afoot again and happy to reveal new discoveries for our gentle readers! The news is quite exciting, and like Miss Emma Woodhouse, we are always intrigued with a piece of news.   

Oxford University Press is rolling out six new Jane Austen trade paperback editions of its Oxford World’s Classics series in June. They will include full unabridged texts, new introductions, notes on the text, selected bibliography,  chronology, biography, two appendixes, textual notes and explanatory notes on each of the major novels; Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey with a bonus of Lady Susan, The Watson’s and Sandition included.  

Image of the cover of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, Oxford World Classics, (2008)Oxford World’s Classics launched its new re-designed classics line in April, and the improvements are quite stunning both visually and texturally. With over 750 titles of world literature to choose from, their commitment to scholars and pleasure readers is nonpareil. You can browse their catalogue here.  

Here is a description of the new edition of Emm

‘I wonder what will become of her!’ 

So speculate the friends and neighbours of Emma Woodhouse, the lovely, lively, willful, and fallible heroine of Jane Austen’s fourth published novel. Confident that she knows best, Emma schemes to find a suitable husband for her pliant friend Harriet, only to discover that she understands the feelings of others as little as she does her own heart. As Emma puzzles and blunders her way through the mysteries of her social world, Austen evokes for her readers a cast of unforgettable characters and a detailed portrait of a small town undergoing historical transition. 

Written with matchless wit and irony, judged by many to be her finest novel, Emma has been adapted many times for film and television. This new edition shows how Austen brilliantly turns the everyday into the exceptional.  

Image of the cover of Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, Oxford World Classic, (2008)Product Details: Edited by James Kinsley, with a new introduction and notes by Adela Pinch, the author of Strange Fits of Passion: Epistemologies of Emotion, Hume to Austen (Stanford UP, 1996) and numerous articles on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English literature and culture. 448 pages; ISBN13: 978-0-19-953552-1, retail price $7.95 

Five of the beautiful new cover images are taken from classic paintings of Regency era women, and Northanger Abbey includes an image of Gothic architecture. You can read further about the re-design at the Oxford University Press website. Don’t miss taking the fun literary quiz, and discover which character from Oxford World’s Classics you are most like. I was surprised to learn that ‘today’ I am Emma Woodhouse! Who would guess?

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