Autograph manuscript, written ca. 1794–95 and transcribed in fair copy soon after 1805
Purchased in 1947
Lady Susan Vernon is the eponymous antihero of Austen's romantic black comedy. Sophisticated, seductive, and amoral, she is characterized by the scholar Marilyn Butler as "a cruising shark in her social goldfish pond." The narrative focuses on the recently widowed Susan's strategic attempts to achieve advantageous marriages for herself and her shy but intractable daughter, Frederica. Her letters, written to multiple recipients, eventually reveal the full extent of her manipulative and duplicitous character. Austen's ironic social observation is sharp and witty and, according to the scholar Christine Alexander, Lady Susan combines "all the free-ranging energy" of Austen's juvenilia "with the polish and sophistication of her later writing."
within this week. — If I am as little in favour with
Mr. Johnson as ever, you must come to me at No. 10
Wigmore St: — but I hope this may not be the case, for
as Mr. Johnson with all his faults is a man to
whom that great word "Respectable" is always given,
& I am known to be so intimate with his wife, his
slighting me has an awkward Look. — I take
Town in my way to that insupportable spot, a Coun:
:try Village, for I am really going to Churchhill. —
Forgive me, my dear friend, it is my last resource.
Were there another place in England open to me,
I would prefer it. — Charles Vernon is my aversion,
& I am afraid of his wife. — At Churchhill however
I must remain till I have something better in
view. My young Lady accompanies me to Town,
where I shall deposit her under the care of Miss
Summers in Wigmore street, till she becomes a little
more reasonable. She will make good connections there,
as the girls are all of the best Families. — The price is
Images provided by DIAMM on behalf of Jane Austen’s Holograph Fiction MSS: A Digital and Print Edition.
Recording of Lady Susan courtesy of Naxos AudioBooks.