© Ellen Moody. No part of this website page may be reproduced without express permission from the author and website/blog owner. All uses of information or evaluative commentary should be acknowledged and documented. Linking is encouraged.

A Chronology of Austen's Writing Life

A monochrome drawing from Observations on the River Wye, relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty (1782), by William Gilpin (1724-1804).

"At a very early age she was enamoured of Gilpin on the Picturesque; and she seldom changed her opinions either on books or men" (Henry Austen, "Biographical Notice," 1817)

The following chronology is based on the calendars I found in Austen's seven apparently finished novels (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Lady Susan), the one clearly unfinished but detailed and worked out mature fragment (The Watsons) and the late rough draft of a novel, Sanditon. I also took into consideration Austen's comments in her letters as well as the publication history of the texts, what her immediate family members recorded, and what we know about or have in the way of manuscripts.

In order to be complete I have also included: 1) brief indications of year, date of first publication and context for Austen's participation in The Loiterer; her Juvenilia; her earliest attempt at serious fiction, the fragment, Catherine or the Bower; her youthful novella-length burlesque, Love and Freindship; and very brief parody-outline, "Plan of a Novel;" and 2) citations of literary sources that have been adduced in the scholarship-criticism. Since I am interested in the connections between French literature and Austen's texts, I also cite the first complete translations of the six famous novels into French.

© Ellen Moody. No part of this website page may be reproduced without express permission from the author and website/blog owner. All uses of information or evaluative commentary should be acknowledged and documented. Linking is encouraged.

1787 - 1793

Volume the First, Volume the Second,
Volume the Third
Three volumes of juvenilia
We have a later presentation copy which includes Austen's insertion of
Hannah More's Coelebs In Search of a Wife (first published 1809).
All of these "Juvenilia" were published posthumously.

1787 - 1791

"Frederic & Elfrida," "Jack & Alice,"
"Edgar & Emma," "Henry & Eliza,"
"The Adventures of Mr Harley," "Sir William Montague,"
"Mr Clifford", "The beautifull Cassandra,"
"Amelia Webster," "The Visit", "The Mystery."
First published as group in 1933 as Volume the First, together with items listed below (which were copied into the end of Vol 1)

Literary Reference: in "Jack and Alice", Sir Charles Grandison.

1789 - 1790

The Loiterer
From 3 January to March of following year;
Throughout series scattered passages by Jane
Still unpublished since original printing; available as microfilm in Early English Newspapers, Unit 28, Reel 1394

Jane's tone, characteristic syntax (abrupt boldness rather than fatuous smoothness of much of the rest of the columns), some turns of phrase and attitudes found here and there in these papers suggest she participated in the project. See, e.g., Nos. 8 ("Sophia Sentiment"), 27, 29 (e.g., "If that fails, I must leave such obstinate people to the fate they deserve"); 36 (Mary Simple, "Constant Reader"), 43 (e.g., "I have few failings, and am wanting in no virtue except Candour, Generosity, and Truth"), 46, 47 (her peculiar obsessions with romance), 52-53 (story recalls Eliza de Feuillide's life and character in a way that looks forward to novels)

1790 - 1792

Love and Friendship ("Finis June 13th 1790")
"The History of England" ("Finis Saturday Nov: 26th 1791")
"A Collection of Letters" "Lesley Castle" (epistolary, calendar from 3rd Jan - 13 April, 1792)
First published in 1922 in Love & Freindship and other early works,
Prefaced by C. K. Chesterton
Together with "Lesley Castle," "A History of England",
"A Collection of Letters" and "Scraps".

All appear in Volume the Second,
first published 1963, edited by Brian Southam

Analogous literary works: for Love and Friendship: Goethe's Sorrows of Werther, Sophia Lee's The Recess (also in fifth letter of Collection of Letters) (1783-1785), William Gilpin's Tour of the Highlands, George Colman's Clandestine Marriage; for "Lesley Castle": Rousseau's La Nouvelle Hëloise, ou Julie as Eloisa; or a series of original letters collected and published by J. J. Rousseau, translated by William Kenrick (1761, first of 10 editions by 1800); for "History of England": Goldsmith, Robertson and Hume's histories; also Sophia Lee's The Recess, Charlotte Smith's Emmeline, or the Orphan of the Castle (1788).


"The Three Sisters" (appears near end of Vol 1 in small mature hand)
"Evelyn" (in Vol 3 which is dated "May 6th 1792")
Analogous literary work: for "The Three Sisters": Hannah Cowley's Which is the Man? (1782).


Catherine or the Bower
Dedication dated "August 1792."
First published in 1951 in Volume the Third,
Edited R. W. Chapman, together with "Evelyn",
and Anna Austen Lefroy's "Contribution".

Literary References: Charlotte Smith's Emmeline, the Orphan of the Castle and Ethelinde, or the Recluse of the Lake (1789) cited


Scraps; "Detached Pieces: A Fragment" (dedication dated "June 2d 1793")
Different Effects of Sensibility, The Generous Curate"
"Ode to Pity" (appears at end of Vol dated 3rd June)


Northanger Abbey
A brief version, working title unknown
Memories of an early trip (?)
A response to Ann Radcliffe'sMysteries of Udolpho (published May 1794);
a Susan Goes to Bath, heroine resembling 1792 Catherine
Probably resembled later Juvenilia,
From James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir: "'Pride and Prejudice,' which some consider the most brilliant of her novels, was the first finished, if not the first begun." The "first begun" may be either this or the next first attempt at what became the first full-drafts of first three seriously-written novels.

1794 - 1795

Elinor and Marianne
A short epistolary novella
Probably also resembled later Juvenilia, e.g.,
A development out of "Lesley Castle" (mockery of sentimental heroine)
and "A Collection of Letters" (e.g, "Letter the second",
where we find a mock of Sophia Lee's The Recess)

1796 - 1797

First Impressions
A much longer novel, the size of Burney's Evelina?,
Probably including long heavily epistolary sections.
A great leap forward into serious fiction
From a note in Jane's sister, Cassandra's hand: First Impressions begun in Oct 1796/Finished in Augt 1797 Published/afterwards, with abbreviations and contractions/under the Title of Pride & Prejudice; from James- Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir: "Pride and Prejudice," which some consider the most brilliant of her novels, was the first finished, if not the first begun. She began it in October 1796, before she was twenty-one years old, and completed it in about ten months, in August 1797.

In a letter dated 1 November 1797, her father, George Austen sent an as yet unidentified novel to Cadell & Davies in London: "I have in my possession ... , comprised in three Vols about the length of Miss Burney's Evelina. As I am well aware of what consequence it is that a work of this sort should make its appearance under a respectable name . . . . where you chuse to be concerned . . . what will be the expense of publishing at the Author's risk & what you will advance for the Property of it." It was rejected by return of post. This novel was probably a first and considerably longer version of the novel now called Pride and Prejudice

1797 - 1798

Mansfield Park
A first draft, working title unknown
Prompted in part by Elizabeth Inchbald's Lover's Vows (1798)
Present extant calendar suggests it consisted of
1) the theatrical section, and
2) Crawford and Maria Bertram Rushworth's elopement.

1797 - 1798

Sense and Sensibility
A conventional-size epistolary novel (three volumes),
Developed out of Elinor and Marianne
A second extraordinary effort, graver, inward heroine
From a note in Cassandra's hand: Sense and Sensibility begun Nov 1797/I am sure that something of this/same story & characters had been/ written earlier & called Elinor and Marianne; from James-Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir: "'Sense and Sensibility' was begun, in its present form, immediately after the completion of [First Impressions], in November 1797; but something similar in story and character had been written earlier under the title of 'Elinor and Marianne;' and, if as probable, a good deal of this earlier production was retained, it must form the earliest specimen of her writing that has been given to the world."

Caroline Austen, daughter of Jane's oldest brother, born 1805, a memory written down in 1869: "Memory is treacherous, but I cannot be mistaken in saying that Sense and Sensibility was first written in letters, and so read to her family."

Analogous literary work: it seems probable that this revision of Elinor and Marianne was partly prompted by Austen's having read Jane West's A Gossip's Story, and A Legendary Tale (1796)

1798 - 1799

It now contains Chapters 21-24, a mature inward reponse to
Radcliffe (The Italian, 1797) and Charlotte Smith (now from Emmeline (1788) through to Marchmont)
Development of heroine as a naif in satire;
Hero as a spokesman, a Jamesian "lucid reflector";
Combines comedy with inward seriousness
A third major effort, new direction of self-reflexivity.
From Cassandra's note: North-hanger Abbey was written/about the years 98 & 99./C. E. A.

1801 - 1807

The Watsons
First draft which opens on Tuesday, October 13, 1801
This working title supplied by family members after her death
From James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir: "The unfinished story, now published under the title of 'The Watsons,' must have been written during the author's residence in Bath.


A brief scrap-draft, working title unknown
Reference to separate Irish kingdom, so
Included Miss Bates and Jane Fairfax
Use of Dibdin's 1799 The Birthday from Kotzebue's Die Versöhnung.

1802 - 1803

A Two Volume Omniscient Bath Novel;
Revision of first version of Northanger Abbey;
Nonetheless basic structuring calendar not changed
From a letter by Jane Austen dated 5 April 1809: "In the Spring of the year 1803 an MS. Novel in 2 vol. entitled Susan was sold to you by a Gentleman of the name of Seymour [Henry Austen's lawyer] ... Six years have since passed, & this work of which I avow myself the Authoress, has never to the best of my knowledge appeared in print ..."

Chapter 5 may be dated to this version if the inclusion of Belinda is not a later insertion; since it is an 1801 novel it seems unlikely that Austen would have inserted the title in 1816.: Austen places herself in tradition of Fanny Burney's Cecilia (1782), Camilla (1795), and Maria Edgeworth's Belinda (1801).

1805 - 1806

Lady Susan
Suddenly truncated ending of interest
Working title unknown;
Named by James-Edward Austen-Leigh
Watermark date shows it cannot have been copied out before 1805
As far as we know Austen never gave this epistolary tale any name. It is written on paper first printed in 1805, marked Bath. Published very much posthumously in 1871, the second edition of James Austen-Leigh's Memoir. Consists of an untitled MS. Some time after writing this book Austen changed the name of the novel that is today known as Northanger Abbey from Susan to Miss Catherine.

As the pivotal bad Tuesday occurs in this calendar and does not occur in the calendar for Northanger Abbey plotted in 1798-1799 and using that year as its basis, the decision to place this secret game of time and its origins occurred after Austen completed the first ms for Susan (1800) and before Austen finished copying out this manuscript.

Analogous literary works: Eloisa; or a series of original letters collected and published by J. J. Rousseau, translated by William Kenrick; Choderlos LaClos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses as Dangerous Connections, or, letters collected in a society, and published for the instruction of other societies, 1784; Germaine de Stael's Delphine (translated into English and published in London 1803 and 1805); also and possibly Maria Edgeworth's epistolary Leonora (1806).

My conjectured calendar sets the action between Christmas 1804 and March 1805, with a reference to 1798 (6 years before book opens).

1806 - 1807

Sense and Sensibility
Worked on once again (one of the "gradual performances of her previous life")
Dramatic Conversation of Chapter 2 Could Come from this era
from Comments made by brothers after father died.


The Watsons
In this copy written down after 1803, draftt is carefully worked up,
With all the characters, oppositions, and story's ending
Named The Watsons by James-Edward Austen-Leigh
As far as we know Austen never gave this unfinished novel any firm name. The title given the sequel by Catherine Hubbard (who was told about the story's ending and probably much else) is The Younger Sister. This title highlights the autobiographical connection between Emma Watson and Jane Austen -- who was the younger Austen sister. The untitled MS is written on paper first printed in 1803. Published very much posthumously 1871, second edition of James Austen-Leigh's Memoir. Its calendar is significant since it provides the explicit date of Tuesday, October 13th, thus limiting the possiblities to between 1801 (see above), 1803, and 1807.

Highly original (George Gissing like); little literary allusion.

My conjectured calendar sets what we have of Volume 1 in October 1801; "thirty years ago" takes us back to 1771; the action as outlined by Cassandra Austen suggests it would have ended within the year. Here then is a third instance of Austen's pattern of opening the action of a novel in autumn and closing it the following year (First Impressions and Sense and Sensibility are the first two).

1808 - 1809

Mansfield Park
First full draft, a long MS version
Used the almanac that was at hand as she had previously;
Idea of forlorn mocked child from watching niece Caroline
at Godmersham:
When in Southampton, develops the epistolary interlude at Portsmouth.
"Little Caroline looks very plain among her Cousins, & tho' she is not so headstrong or humoursome as they are, I do not think her at all more engaging . . . I beleive the little girl will be glad to go home; -- her Cousins are too much for her" (letters dated 22 June 1808, 30 June 1808).

1808, June-July; 1809 May-July; September-October 1813: Jane Austen's visits to Godmersham as remembered by Marianne Knight (born 1801, sixth daughter of Edward, Jane's brother: "I remember that when Aunt Jane came to us at Godmersham she used to bring the MS of whatever novel she was writing with her . . . read them aloud . . . I also remember how Aunt Jane would sit quietly working beside the fire in the library, saying nothing for a good while, and then would suddenly burst out laughing ... write something down, & then go back to the fire & go on working as before".

1809- 1811

Sense and Sensibility
Our extant text.
Opening five chapters replace long lead-in.
It was revised and somewhat awkwardly rearranged
without changing time-scheme,
to make it wholly omniscient.
Austen's titles: Elinor and Marianne, Sense and Sensibility. Letters about it before publication consist of one dated April 25, 1811 when she is reading proofs; it was published November 11, 1812. Henry Austen discusses private arrangements leading up to it (getting the money together) in his Memoir published in 1817. Caplan has it published on 30 October 1811. First completely translated and published in book form in French in 1815 by (to provide her full name) Jeanne-Isabelle-Pauline Polier de Botten, baronne de Montolieu (1751-1832); it was titledRaison et Sensibilité, ou Les Deux Maniéres d'Aimer.

Analogous literary works and references: Johnson's Rasselas (1759) and Ramblers, Idlers, Adventurers (1752-60); Henry Mackenzie's A Man of Feeling (1771), Fanny Burney's Cecilia (1782); Sophia Lee's The Recess (once again); Isabelle de Montolieu's Caroline de Lichtfield (1786), translated and published under same title by Thomas Holcroft in the same year; Ann Radcliffe's Sicilian Romance (1790), Romance of the Forest (1791) and Mysteries of Udolpho, Maria Edgeworth's Letters of Julia and Carolina (1795); Jane West's A Gossip's Story 1797); Germaine de Stael's Corinne (1807), Mary Brunton's Self-Control (1810); Robert Graves's Columella; or, The Distressed Anchoret (1779), Gilpin's Picturesque Tours (1786-1804), cited as great poets Cowper, Thomson, Scott, as play Marianne and Willoughby were "going through", Shakespeare's Hamlet.

The extant calendar in the novel dates main action between February 1797 and May 1798, with Marianne and Brandon's marriage occurring two years later; you can consistently dovetail the whole action back to 1762 for 37 years. The juxtapositions of action show all the characteristic marks of epistolarity.

1809 - 1811

Pride and Prejudice
Thorough-going rewriting
And considerable cutting of First Impressions
Austen's titles: First Impressions, Pride and Prejudice. Austen's letters about it in which she calls it First Impressions are dated January 9, 1799 and June 11, 1799. It underwent extensive transfiguration which including lopping and chopping and complete rehaul of the calendar so that it became Pride and Prejudice. It was published January 28 or 29, 1813; all other comments on novel by Austen (of which there are but a very few) occur after publication. First complete translation into French and publication in book form in 1821 by Éloise Perks and entitled Orgueil et Prévention.

Cassandra's note: First Impressions begun in Oct 1796/Finished in Augt 1797 Published/afterwards, with abbreviations and contractions/under the Title of Pride & Prejudice.

Analogous literary works: One of The Loiterers is a satire specifically against "first impressions"; Fanny Burney's Cecilia, Robert Bage's Hermsprong, or Man as He Is Not (1796); Regina Maria Roche's Children of the Abbey (1796). Félicité de Genlis's Mademoiselle de Clermont (1802) ("nouvelle historique", a rewrite of Marie-Madeleine de Lafayette's La Princesse de Cleves); there are also analogous character types and themes in Sophie Cottin's Amélie Mansfield, first published in Paris in 1803 but in London in French (by Colburn) in 1809 (Darcy and the hero of this novel, Ernest are closely analogous in posture, in their pride, and their assertion of implacability). The text also recalls the character types of plays from the Restoration into Austen's era.

The extant calendar in the novel shows the dramatic action of the extant and earlier calendar began in September; the present one is set in 1811 and moves steadily forward to October 1812, with some dovetailing of time before to 1806, and time after to 1813.

1811 - 1813

Mansfield Park
She rewrites it turning it into "graver" book
With theme of ordination, visit to Sotherton worked in;
Influenced by atmosphere of Regency period
Austen's title: Mansfield Park. Present form begun with idea of a graver novel after once turning Pride and Prejudice into something more publishable: "Now I will try to write of something else; - it shall be a complete change of subject -- Ordination" (letter by Austen 20 January 1813). Austen's letters of 22 June 1808 and 30 June 1808 about Godmersham and niece Caroline.. Austen's letters of 6 July 1813 (to Francis about references to his ships) and March 21, 1814 (again to Francis): Mansfield Park by the author of S.&S. -- P.&P. may be in the World"). It was accepted for publication in January 1814 and published May 1814. It was first completely translated into French and published in 1816 by Henri Vilmain (who wrote novels himself and also translated English novels from John Gamble, Elizabeth Helme, Sydney Owenson and Walter Scott); the title was Le Parc de Mansfield, ou Les Trois Cousins.

From Cassandra Austen's note: Mansfield Park, begun sometime/about Feby 1811 -- Finished soon after/June 1813.

Analogous literary works: Charlotte Smith's Ethelinde; Fanny Burney's Camilla, Elizabeth Inchbald's Lover's Vows (1798) , George Crabbe's "Marriages" in Tales in Verse (1812), Marie (Sophie) Ristaud-Cottin's Claire d'Albe (1799); works alluded to or cited: Sterne's Sentimental Journey, Home's Douglas, a Tragedy, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Richard III, Henry VIII (), Julius Caesar, Othello, Macbeth, Susannah Centlivre's Gamester, Sheridan's Rivals, School for Scandal,George Colman the Younger's Heir at Law, Richard Cumberland's Wheel of Fortune, Walter Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), William Cowper's The Task and Tirocinium; Thomas Clarkson's History of the ... Abolition of the African Slave Trade (1808) and Humphry Repton e.g, Observations on the Theory and Practice of Gardening, 1803, 1816).

The calendar extant in the novel works most consistently when we date the central dramatic action from August/autum 1808 until May 1809, lingering perhaps into September of 1809, with prelude in childhood occurring in 1796, and the marriage of the three sisters 30 years earlier dated to 1766.

1814 - 1815

Developed with hidden calendar-game
Austen's title: Emma. Letters about it occur between October 21, 1815 when she dictates Henry's letter to Murray trying to sell it profitably; November 26, 1815 correcting proofs; all other letters are about copies and opinions of Emma once the book was printed; published December 1815. It is not known who translated the whole of Emma for the first publication in 1816 which was titled La Nouvelle Emma, ou Les Caractéres Anglais du Siécle.

From Cassandra Austen's note: Emma begun Jany 21st 1814, finished/March 29th 1815.

Analogous literary works: Thomas Dibdin's 1791 The Birthday from Kotzebue, Die Versöhnung; Mary Brunton's Discipline (1815); Agnes Maria Bennet's Agnes De-Courci: A Domestic Tale (1789), Regina Maria Roche's Children of the Abbey, Fanny Burney's Camilla; also Maria Edgeworth's Belinda; Charlotte Lennox's Female Quixote (1752); Stannard Eaton Barrett's The Heroine (1813); poetry quoted Gray's Elegy in Country Churchyard, Cowper's Task ("Myself creating what I saw").

The calendar extant in the novel opens September 1813 and closes in late autuman 1814, with some dovetailing back to 1811. There is a hidden calendar, a sort of game in which Austen worked out pivotal events in the novel to occur on holy/festival/season days of the year (Michaelmas, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easer, May Day/Midsummer Eve. Emma is the most shapely of Austen's books; it just doesn't end suddenly in the manner of the others and may be regarded as both the most finished and least re-worked of all of them.

1815 - 1816

Plan of a novel,
according to hints from various quarters,
A burlesque which shows Austen still mocking emotional fiction
As well as people she knows and the Prince Regent's librarian
Austen's title: Plan This is an undated fair copy (manuscript) in the Pierpont Morgan Library; extract were first published in 1871 by James-Edward Austen- Leigh; R W. Chapman published the complete text in 1926. It may be useful to mention that the sketch seems to burlesque specifically Marie (Sophie) Ristaud-Cottin's Elisabeth; Or Exiles of Siberia (published in French in 1806, translated into English 1810) and Mary Brunton's Self-Control (1810), which Austen savages in a letter of October 1813.

1815 - 1816

Miss Catherine
By this time Susan renamed,
Austen dissatisfied, struggling with it
Named Northanger Abbey and published posthumously by Henry and Cassandra Austen in 1817
Austen's titles: Susan, Miss Catherine. Austen's preface to the book written in 1817 when she "put the book on the shelf": this little work was finished in the year 1803, and intended for immediate publication ... public entreated to bear in mind that thirteen years have paased since it was finished, many more since it was begun." In a letter of 1809 to a publisher, she states ms novel in two volumes entitled Susan sold to publisher in 1803 for £10; there is a possible connection to Bath bookseller. On 3 March 1817 Austen writes Miss Catherine "is put upon the Shelve for the present, and I do not know that she will ever come out." Published posthumously December 1817 as Northanger Abbey, no ms. The first complete translation was by Madame Hyacinthe de Ferriéres; it appeared in 1824 with the title, L'Abbay de Northanger.

From Cassandra's note: North-hanger Abbey was written/about the years 98 & 99./C. E. A. Letters shows that in 1816 one of Austen's brothers brought back manuscript from Crosby for £10, after which he informed the publisher that the author of the manuscript was the author of Pride and Prejudice ... "

This is the only one of the seven novels in which Tuesday is not pivotal, the only one whose dramatic action does not begin in autumn. Therefore, the time-scheme derives from before the decision to make Tuesday pivotal, and goes back to at least before 1807. Like Mansfield Park, the dramatic action of Northanger Abbey is not circumscribed within the limits of about a year; like Lady Susan, Northanger Abbey has a tight span of a few months. After Austen wrote Lady Susan, she changed the heroine's name back to the heroine of the first sober fiction she wrote (Catherine or the Bower).

Analogous literary works: The Loiterer, Fanny Burney's Evelina, Sophia Lee's The Recess; Ann Radcliffe's Silicilan Romance, Romance of the Forest, Mysteries of Udolpho, and The Italian; (1788) - Marchmont (1796); Regina Maria Roche's Children of the Abbey, and Clermont (1798); the rest of the "Northanger Novels": Eliza Parsons' The Castle of Wolfenbach (1793) and The Mysterious Warning (1796), Eleanor Sleath's The Orphan of the Rhine (1798), Francis Lathom's The Midnight Bell (1798), Peter Tethould's The Necromancer or the Tale of the Black Forest (1794) and Karl Grosse's Horrid Mysteries (1796) as well as Charlotte Lennox's Female Quixote (1752) and Stannard Eaton Barrett's The Heroine (1813); Gilpin's Picturesque Tours (1786-1804), References to John Homespun's The Mirror

The calendar in the novel focuses the dramatic action within three months, February through April 1798, though the timeline goes back to 1797 Christmas and includes winter 1799 when Catherine and Henry Tilney marry.

1815 - 1816

The Elliots?
Not finished; third volume implicit in second
Picture of Early 19th Century Bath
Named Persuasion and published posthumously by Henry and Cassandra Austen in 1817.
Austen's title: The Elliots First ending or cancelled chapters written on paper with watermark of 1812; top of first leaf reads "July 8at the foot of ending "Finis. July 16, 1816." But she worked on it further for in a letter dated 23 March 1817, Austen refers to this novel as something she is readying for publication and may appear in another year; it has a heroine (Anne) "who is almost too good for me." It was published posthumously in December 1817 as Persuasion. It was first translated into French by Isabelle de Montolieu in 1818 as Persuasion but she changed the title ("ce titre m'a paru trop vague en français") to La Famille Elliot, ou L'Ancienne Inclination.

From Cassandra's note: Persuasion begun Augt 8th 1815/ finished Augt 6th 1816.

Literary references: Charlotte Smith's Elegiac Sonnets, Byron's Giaour, The Corsair, and The Bride of Abydos, Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake and Marmion.

My conjectured calendar shows the timeline of the novel may be worked back to 1760. Its dramatic action moves from late summer/August 1814 to just before Waterloo in 1815. Austen set it in an interlude between the ongoing Napoleonic wars. Like Northanger Abbey, Persuasion has Bath sequence, and the two parts of the novel are not completely consistent; like Northanger Abbey, the non-Bath sequence is picturesque; but unlike the originally much earlier book, the allusions to are to contemporary romantic poetry. There are many inconsistencies and planted clues which are not worked out; these become evident in the sequence at Lyme and increase in the part of the novel set in Bath.


The Brothers?
First rough draft
Named Sanditon by R.W. Chapman.
As far as we know this fragment never had a firm name. It was J. Sanders, a granddaughter of Francis Austen who wrote in Times Literary Supplement in 1925 that Austen had intended to title the novel The Brothers. We have an untitled first draft, heavily revised; it is signed begun 17 January 1817, put down 18 March 1817. It was first published very much posthumously by R. W. Chapman in 1925.

Analogous literary works and references: Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, Fanny Burney's Camilla; Scott's Marmion; Burns, Wordsworth, Campbell ("Pleasures of Hope")

There is no calendar possible. There is no pivotal incident. There is a skein of letters which suggests that at this late stage Austen was still developing her stories partly through epistolary personation.

Drawing Room, Chawton House, 1954

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