Lady Susan : autograph manuscript, fair copy.

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Record ID: 
Accession number: 
MA 1226
Austen, Jane, 1775-1817.
England, undated, ca. 1805-1817
Purchased in 1947.
Curatorial Comments: 

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.

1 item (159 pages) ; 19.1 cm

High reserve.
Left complete but unpublished and without title at the author's death.
Written on 79 leaves, 2 of them bearing the date 1805 in the watermark.


Watermarks: Fragment of lion(?) with sword inside crowned triple circle, pages 3, 7, 9-10, 11, 19-20, 21, 56-57.
Watermarks: SHARP, pages 55, 97-98, 151-152.
Watermark: Lion(?) with sword inside crowned triple circle, page 70-71.
Watermarks: 1805, pages 85, 107-108.


Being a fair copy in the author's hand, written on the rectos and versos of 79 leaves; with a dedication, most likely in Austen's hand, "For / Lady Knatchbull."

Housed in: 
Blue cloth drop-spine box (34.2 cm)
Orange morocco with elaborate gold tooling, lettered "Jane Austen / The Original Manuscript of Lady Susan / presented to her neice Lady Knatchbull"(32.5 cm.); bound by Rivière; the manuscript has been disbound and is housed separately.
Purchased from James F. Drake in 1947; the manuscript was presented to Fanny Knight (Lady Knatchbull), from whose family it passed (1891) to the Earl of Roseberry; at the sale of his library (Sotheby, 26 June 1933) it was acquired by Walter M. Hill; the Morgan Library purchased it in 1947 from James F. Drake.