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|GR: History of publication
Written by Cheryl
(3/30/2003 12:05 a.m.)
Northanger Abbey was originally titled Susan and was written in 1798-99 when Jane Austen was around 24. The calendar dates used in the book are for 1798. It was the first novel Jane Austen sold, for £10 in 1803 to the publisher Crosby & Co. who advertised it, but never published it.
In 1809 Jane wrote to the publisher, using the assumed name of “Mrs. Ashton Dennis” offering to supply them with another copy of the manuscript if they had lost the original one and suggesting she would publish it elsewhere if they were no longer interested. (Can you imagine waiting six years? What patience!) She got a very curt and threatening letter back saying
”…there was not any time stipulated for its publication, neither are we bound to publish it. Should you or anyone else we shall take proceedings to stop the sale. The MS shall be yours for the same as we paid for it.”
Yikes! Well, as Jane’s annual allowance was only £50, she could not afford to do that. I do wonder why none of her brothers or father offered to buy it back for her…
Ten years after the manuscript had been sold, and having some success, her brother Henry entered into negotiations with the publisher to get it back.
”When the bargain was concluded and the money paid, but not till then, the negotiator had the satisfaction of informing him that the work which had been so lightly esteemed was by the author of Pride and Prejudice.” (J.E. Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen by her nephew)
Can you imagine the satisfaction that was? ;-)
She made some revisions, changed the name to Catherine, wrote an advertisement in which she apologized for its being dated, but put it on the shelf, deciding against publishing. I wonder, if the gothic parody she lampooned would really have been so out of style that her work could not have been properly appreciated at the time? It certainly does not seem to suffer to us, but we have the benefit of distance.
It was published along with Persuasion after Jane’s death in 1817. Her brother Henry chose both titles, Jane having named them “Catherine” and “The Elliots”. Jane left to her sister Cassandra the profits from her books and this double book volume garnered £500 for Cassandra.
One other tidbit – you know how Jane didn’t like the name “Richard” and made fun of it? The man who did not publish Northanger Abbey was named – wait for it - Richard Crosby. Coincidence, or not? I leave it to yourselves to determine. ;-)
Northanger Abbey is maintained by Cheryl and Linda with WebBBS 3.21.