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A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy

Lady susan

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Lady Susan Facsimile
The manuscript of Austen's Lady Susan is the only surviving complete draft of any of her novels. All of the manuscripts of Austen's novels were probably destroyed after serving as printer's copy, and neither she nor her family retained any of the earlier, rough drafts of the four novels published during her lifetime or the two novels published posthumously. The manuscript of Lady Susan is a fair copy in Austen's hand, almost free of corrections or revisions. There is no conclusive evidence for the date of composition, but Austen probably wrote Lady Susan in 1794–95. Two of the 158 pages of this manuscript are watermarked 1805, suggesting that she transcribed her earlier draft (which does not survive) between 1805 and 1809, perhaps for possible publication. Austen appears to have left the novel untitled. This manuscript of Austen's epistolary novel (a novel in the form of a series of letters) was first published in 1871 by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh in his Memoir of Jane Austen. The first seven letters of the novel are shown here.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.