It would have excited in her an amused incredulity, no doubt, had any one predicted that two generations after her death the real recognition of her powers was to come. Time, which like desert sands has effaced the footprints of so many promising authors, has, with her, served as the desert wind, to blow aside those dusts of the commonplace which for a while concealed her true proportions. She is loved more than she ever hoped to be, and far more widely known. Sarah Chauncey Woolsey, Jane Austen’s Letters (1892).
This quote is from the preface to Jane Austen’s Letters: Selected from the Compilation of her Great Nephew, Edward, Lord Brabourne (1892) by the famous American children’s author Sarah Chauncey Woolsey. As the editor, she selected about seventy eight of the original ninety six letters from the 1884 English edition and wrote the insightful short preface praising Austen and celebrating her recent revival.
Like Jane Austen, Woolsey wrote under a pen name, was a bit forward thinking in women’s rights and never married. She greatly admired Austen’s character Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. I can feel a bit of Lizzy’s independence and wish to marry only for love in this passage from her poem Of Such As I Have.
“Love me for what I am, Love. Not for sake
Of some imagined thing which I might be,
Some brightness or some goodness not in me,
Born of your hope, as dawn to eyes that wake
Imagined morns before the morning break.”
Read Sarah Chauncey Woolsey’s complete preface to Jane Austen’s Letters (1892) in the Opinions section right here at Austenprose.