Becoming Catherine Morland: A Cautionary Tale of Manuscripts in the Archive

By Friedman, Emily C. | Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, Annual 2017 | Go to article overview

Becoming Catherine Morland: A Cautionary Tale of Manuscripts in the Archive


Friedman, Emily C., Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal


LIKE CATHERINE MORLAND, we all dream of discovering that a manuscript tucked away in an archive, among dusty boxes in an attic, or in a mysterious chest in our guest room is really a long-forgotten work by a beloved author. This is the story of a collector who thought he had done just that--and a scholar who almost believed it. Fair warning: there is no new Austen manuscript at the end of this tale. Nevertheless, what follows does remind us of those very Austenian values of forsaking prejudice, embracing sense, and not allowing oneself to be persuaded too easily. (1)

In 1971, Duke University's Rubenstein Library acquired the manuscript of a nearly complete eighteenth-century novel, which it believed had never been published. The novel was entered into their catalogue as "Anonymous novel, 18th century." At some point, the title changed to "Hampshire, England woman's novel, [17--and the entry included the following description:

   Manuscript of an unpublished epistolary novel bearing some
   resemblance to the works of Jane Austen. The volume is accompanied
   by six pages of type-written notes discussing Austen's possible
   connection with the unknown female author of this novel.

My research team and I visited Duke in April 2017 as part of a larger project of collecting, describing, and transcribing manuscript fiction created during the age of print, 1750-1900. ft was not long before Hampshire (as I will refer to it for most of this essay) became one of our highest priorities. What we ultimately discovered changed what was known about the manuscript entirely. In what follows I will discuss the current state of research about the work, beginning with its known provenance and then using as my organizing principles the three subject areas that Duke has assigned to the novel:

   Austen, Jane, 1775-1817--Style
   Hampshire (England)--History
   Women authors, English--18th century

NOTES TOWARD PROVENANCE

Duke acquired the manuscript at Sotheby's sale of March 16, 1971, through Winifred Myers, a London-based dealer. The final private owner of the manuscript is not mentioned in the catalogue, but it was almost certainly Brent Gration-Maxfield, a major twentieth-century book collector. We know that he owned the book during the mid-twentieth century: as with many of his other acquisitions, the manuscript now sports modern, fine orange morocco gilt binding with his name stamped on the front interior edge. The only initial oddity was that the majority of the Gration-Maxfield library was dispersed in a series of sales by Sotheby's that prominently featured Gration-Maxfield's name. In contrast, this manuscript novel was sold in a miscellaneous auction of "valuable printed books, music, autograph letters and historical documents."

The Sotheby's catalogue description of Item 611 "Eighteenth-Century Epistolary Novel" is dated "c. 1780" and gets right to the point: "There is considerable evidence to suggest that this apparently un-published novel was written by a Hampshire novelist belonging to the generation before Jane Austen's." The description doesn't stop there, noting, "The parallels with Jane Austen's world are obvious, just as it is impossible not to think of Darcy when Sir William's son 'found in himself a wish' that a young lady 'was not so handsome, as she had no fortune, nor was of a family equal to the one he was entitled to be connected with'" and that "Other detailed parallels exist between place and character names in the novel and those in the Austen circle" (Sotheby's 1971).

Sotheby's did not create these claims themselves. During his ownership, Brent Gration-Maxfield inscribed a similar claim inside the rebound manuscript under his ex libris:

   Whether published or unpublished, they [sic] is strong evidence of
   an association between this unknown Hampshire novelist and the
   Austen family. Internal evidence, construction, plot, characters,
   handwriting, paper, orthography, grammar, locale, etc. … 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Becoming Catherine Morland: A Cautionary Tale of Manuscripts in the Archive
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.