Persuasion is the only one of Jane Austen's published novels for which there is extant manuscript material: the first draft of the final two chapters. Within fewer than three weeks of writing these chapters, Austen partially cancelled and partially revised them in order to produce the final three chapters of the published version. Persuasion is thus singular in her oeuvre, providing the only opportunity to see precisely how she edited a draft to turn it into a publishable piece of fiction. In this article, I perform a comparative reading of the cancelled and published chapters of Persuasion, observing how Austen's novelistic principles shaped her editorial practices. Her dissatisfaction with the original chapters correlates directly to her theory of novel-writing, as articulated in her five letters on fiction of 1814 to her niece Anna Lefroy. Austen cancelled and revised the end of Persuasion with the clearest of intentions: to produce a novel that better satisfied her stringent standards for novelistic form.
"Jane Austen as Editor: Letters on Fiction and the Cancelled Chapters of Persuasion,"
1, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/ecf/vol24/iss1/5
Katie Gemmill is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, New York. Her research topics include Jane Austen as editor, French influences in the writings of Frances Burney, and Anglo-French literary relations during the eighteenth century.