Student Companion to Jane Austen

By Debra Teachman | Go to book overview

7
Northanger Abbey (1818)

Northanger Abbey has the distinction of being Jane Austen first sold but last published book. According to Cassandra Austen, Jane's sister, it was written in 1798 and 1799 and sold to the publisher Crosby and Co. in 1803. At that time its title was Susan. As Austen continued writing her other novels, she awaited the publication of her first novel, but even though advertisements for the novel appeared in popular periodicals, publication never happened. Austen wrote the publisher in 1809, demanding immediate publication or the right to publish elsewhere. Crosby and Co. threatened her with a lawsuit if she tried to place the manuscript with a different publisher, but continued to postpone publishing the book. In 1816, after four of her novels had already been published, Austen arranged for her brother Henry to buy back the manuscript from Crosby and Co. They, unaware that the anonymous manuscript they held was written by the author of the best-selling Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, sold it back to him for what they had paid for it.

During the last years of her life, Austen revised Susan into Northanger Abbey. She changed the heroine's name and added some references that would not have been available to her before 1803, but there is no evidence that her revision of the novel was extensive. Unlike Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, both of which underwent changes in form as well as content when revised from their original state, Northanger Abbey remains very close to the original in both form and content. In fact, her changes were so minimal that

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Student Companion to Jane Austen
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • 1 - The Life of Jane Austen 1
  • 2 - Literary Heritage 21
  • 3 - Sense and Sensibility (1811) 37
  • 4 - Pride and Prejudice (1813) 53
  • 5 - Mansfield Park (1814) 71
  • 6 - Emma (1815) 89
  • 7 - Northanger Abbey (1818) 109
  • 8 - Persuasion (1818) 129
  • Bibliography 149
  • Index 155
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