Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey

By: Jane Austen Information you may want to know about this author
Published by: John Murray
Publication Date: 1817

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Jane had begun writing what would eventually become Northanger Abbey at the age of twenty two, placing it among her earliest works. The novel had been ‘completed’ and sold five years later, at that time bearing the title Susan, to a publisher for just ten pounds. As with the rest of her works published during her lifetime, it’s authorship was kept a secret. Years of frustration were to follow as the publisher retained the rights but never brought the book to press. She endeavored on multiple occasions to purchase back the rights to her book, he refused. It wasn’t until she was forty that her brother Henry succeeded in doing so. Certainly, had the publisher known that this novel was by the celebrated author of such books as Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, he would had persisted in his refusal. Unfortunately, by that time her health had begun to fail. Not long after she finished writing Persuasion, to which she had given a working title of The Elliots, Jane suffered an illness from which she was never to recover.

Henry was then the one to entitle both Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, and to bring them to publication as a four volume set in 1818. Their title page credited “the Author of Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, etc. With a Biographical Notice of the Author.” It is here, finally, that Jane’s authorship is at last revealed, and a brief sketch of her life, told with all the affection of a favorite brother, is included. It is left to him to disappoint the reader: there will be no further novels by this beloved author.

Writing Love and Freindship and her other Juvenilia gave Jane the perfect opportunity to hone the brilliant sense of satire that gave birth to Northanger Abbey. Here we have a clever and intentional parody of the Gothic novels so popular at that time. Catherine Moreland, the subject of Northanger Abbey, allows her idle imagination to run away with her. She has read far too many novels like Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho; and her mind is full of castles, ghosts, dark hearted villains and, of course, heroines in distress. So much so, in fact, that she convinces herself that she is living in one of those very stories. Fortunately for Catherine, Jane allows her the opportunity to come to her senses and “sooner than she could have supposed it possible, in the beginning of her distress, her spirits became absolutely comfortable...and the anxieties of common life began soon to succeed to the alarms of romance.”

—Written by Johanna Bittle


Northanger Abbey Reprint

Northanger Abbey
Reprinted in 2017 by The Folio Society
Reprint illustrated by Jonathan Burton
Reprint foreword by Val McDermid
Available formats: Hardcover
View on the The Folio Society site

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