Jane Austen: Facts and Problems

By R. W. Chapman | Go to book overview

IX
ANONYMITY AND NOTORIETY

HENRY AUSTEN, in his Notice of his sister, writes with emphasis of her diffidence and her love of obscurity.

It was with extreme difficulty that her friends, whose partiality she suspected while she honoured their judgement, could prevail on her to publish her first work . . . so much did she shrink from notoriety, that no accumulation of fame could have induced her, had she lived, to affix her name to any production of her pen. In the bosom of her own family she talked of them freely, thankful for praise, open to remark, and submissive to criticism. But in public she turned away from any allusion to the character of an authoress.

It is clear from the letters that anonymity was precious to her. When she made her first essay in 1803, Susan was sold on her behalf by a person whose name gave no clue.1 When in 1809 she tried to induce the publisher to act, she used an assumed name. Though her manuscripts were well known to her family and to a few intimate friends, the knowledge was carefully limited; and when she began to publish, secrecy was enjoined. She describes 'the caution observed at Steventon' as

____________________
1
See p. 44.

-130-

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Jane Austen: Facts and Problems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • I - Jane Austen's Family 1
  • II - Steventon: 1776-1801 20
  • II - Reading and Writing 35
  • IV - Bath and Southampton: 1801-9 46
  • V - Romance 56
  • VI - Chawton: 1809-17 70
  • VII - Character and Opinions 90
  • VIII - Fact and Fiction 121
  • IX - Anonymity and Notoriety 130
  • X - Biography and Criticism 140
  • XI - Jane Austen and Her Publishers 154
  • XII - Authorities 158
  • Chronology 175
  • Notes on the Novels 184
  • Appendix: the Portaits 212
  • Addenda 215
  • Index I: Persons, Etc. 218
  • Index 224
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