Austen for Beginners

   What did she write?

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Jane Austen's six principal novels are:

Pride and Prejudice

Sense and Sensibility

Emma

Mansfield Park

Northanger Abbey

Persuasion

She wrote various other things too, but they are less well-known.
That might be all you want to know. If so, that’s fine – that’s all you need.

Click on the titles of the individual novels above for more information about each one.

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If you’re interested in learning more about Jane Austen’s writings – read on...

  • Jane Austen began to write as a young girl, and the manuscripts surviving from this period are known as her ‘juvenilia’, meaning youthful work. Lady Susan, a novella (short novel) in the form of letters, forms part of the juvenilia and was probably written between 1793 and 1795. Jane Austen never attempted to have this story published in her lifetime, but she kept it safely and it was published after her death.
  • The earliest versions of Pride and Prejudice (originally called First Impressions), Sense and Sensibility (originally called Eleanor and Marianne) and Northanger Abbey (originally called Susan) were written between 1795 and 1798.
  • Eleanor and Marianne (later Sense and Sensibility) was probably the first of Jane Austen’s major novels that she started to write, originally in the form of letters. She revised it in late 1797/early 1798, changing its format to the more usual narrative form and renaming it to Sense and Sensibility during this process. It was further revised in 1809 and eventually published in 1811. Jane Austen further revised it and it was republished in a second edition in 1813.
  • First Impressions (later Pride and Prejudice) was written in late 1796/early 1797. It was offered to a publisher by Jane Austen’s father in 1797, but was rejected without being read.
  • Susan (later Northanger Abbey) was written in draft form between 1798 and 1799. Jane Austen revised it in 1802/1803 and it was sent to a publisher by her brother Henry on her behalf. The publisher, Richard Crosby, paid 10 for it, but never published it.
  • First Impressions was revised and eventually published as Pride and Prejudice in 1813. Consistently Jane Austen’s most popular novel, it contains what is supposed to be her favourite heroine – Elizabeth Bennet.
  • The later novels (Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion) were not written until after Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811, when presumably Jane Austen felt sufficiently encouraged to start writing again.
  • Mansfield Park was published in 1814. Jane Austen revised it and it was republished in a second edition in 1816.
  • Emma was published in 1816. It was dedicated at his own request to the Prince Regent (later King George IV) who was one of Jane Austen’s admirers.
  • Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were both published after her death, in 1818. Northanger Abbey had originally been called Susan, then Miss Catherine. The title Northanger Abbey was chosen by Jane Austen’s brother Henry and her sister Cassandra, and Henry arranged its publication. Persuasion was originally called The Elliots, but we don’t know if Jane Austen chose the new title or if it was chosen after her death.
  • Persuasion is the only one of Jane Austen’s novels for which any part of the original manuscript is still in existence. The remnant consists of two chapters, which were later rewritten before publication. The manuscript of the original versions of these two chapters, complete with crossings-out and margin notes, is now in the British Museum in London.
  • Unfinished works: The Watsons (started in 1803, never finished). Published in 1871 in the Memoir, written by her nephew, James Austen-Leigh; Sanditon (started in 1817, just before her death and originally known as The Brothers or The Last Work).

For more information about each work, click on the links in the text.

If you’d like to see what her actual handwriting looked like, click here.

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Austen for Beginners 2013
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Austen for Beginners   Pride and Prejudice   Sense and Sensibility   Emma   Mansfield Park   Northanger Abbey   Persuasion