A portion of the autograph manuscript of The Watsons, an unfinished novel written ca. 1804
13.3 and 19.2 cm
Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1920
This twelve-page fragment is of enormous significance because it is the only manuscript extant from the period between the completion of Northanger Abbey in 1799 and the beginning of Mansfield Park in 1811 and, unlike the manuscript of Lady Susan, it is a rough draft rather than a fair copy, bearing numerous revisions and cancellations. It was probably begun in 1804 (the paper is watermarked 1803), when Austen was living in Bath. This is a portion of the unfinished novel (the larger portion of the manuscript is held by the University of London). It was given the title "The Watsons" when it was first published by James Edward Austen-Leigh in the 1871 edition of his Memoir. Austen's reasons for abandoning this novel remain conjectural.