Autograph manuscript of a plan of a novel, according to hints from various quarters [circa 1815]
Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1925
"Plan of a novel" was probably written in 1816 as a comic riposte to Austen's correspondence with James Stanier Clarke, domestic chaplain and librarian to the prince regent. Clarke had self-importantly suggested that Austen write a novel about a clergyman, perhaps modeled on his own career. Austen's "Plan" is an assemblage of cliches and ludicrous plot points—several of which were suggested by the family members, friends, and acquaintances identified in the margins—that exuberantly parodies the implausible, formulaic excesses and artificiality of romantic fiction popular in her time. This pastiche reveals the brilliance of Austen's irony and playful wit.