Academic journal article Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal

Editor's Note

Academic journal article Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

PART OF THE SPRING OF 1811 Jane Austen passed at the London home of her brother Henry and his wife, Eliza. She spent her time observing the fashions, shopping for fabric and for Wedgwood, listening to music, going to the theatre and to exhibitions, making new acquaintances, getting insights into "the ways of a French circle," and correcting proofs. On April 25, in the midst of a social whirl, she assures Cassandra,

   No indeed, I am never too busy to think of S&S. I can no more
   forget it, than a mother can forget her sucking child; & I am much
   obliged to you for your enquiries. I have had two sheets to
   correct, but the last only brings us to W.s first appearance.

Although the book is in press, production is taking longer than anticipated, and expectant readers, as well as its author, eagerly look forward to its appearance. Mrs. Knight, Edward Austen's benefactor, is one of those interested parties:

   Mrs K. regrets in the most flattering manner that she must wait
   till May, but I have scarcely a hope of its being out in
   June.--Henry does not neglect it; he has hurried the Printer, &
   says he will see him again today--It will not stand still during
   his absence, it will be sent to Eliza.--The Incomes remain as they
   were, but I will get them altered if I can.--I am very much
   gratified by Mrs K.s interest in it; & whatever may be the event of
   it as to my credit with her, sincerely wish her curiosity could be
   satisfied sooner than is now probable. I think she will like my
   Elinor, but cannot build on any thing else.

Despite Henry's urgency, the novel, in fact, does not appear until October 30.

Did Mrs. Knight appreciate Elinor? What was her judgment of Marianne? Readerly enthusiasm often centered on Sense and Sensibility's characters, which The Critical Review praised as "naturally drawn, and judiciously supported." Princess Charlotte, just turned sixteen, claimed an affinity with the novel's other heroine: "'I think Maryanne & me are very like in disposition, that certainly I am not so good, the same imprudence, &c, however remain very like." James Austen, admiring both characters, attributed their qualities to his sister. …

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