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The Last Surviving Manuscript of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Gets Published

Jane Austen, one of literature’s most famous authors, has stunned the world with her literary pieces about women and living in late eighteenth-century society. She has created masterful books such as Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibility, and Emma and strong woman protagonists that are the epitome of strength and sassiness. Women today still fawn over Austen’s literary masterpieces and talk about the unbashful Elizabeth Bennet and impulsive Marianne Dashwood. However, the flirtatious and ambitious Lady Susan is just forgotten among Austen’s more famously known heroines. It just seems that only die-hard Austen fans are aware of the widow’s account and have picked up the novel dutifully name after the protagonist herself.

 

Lady Susan was the first significant novel written by Austen back when she was only eighteen or nineteen. At that age in the early 1790s, most women considered marriage and settling down, but not Austen. Her head was in the clouds. She was thinking about the art of script, poetic words that would do her book justice, and characters that would change the very fabric of the literary world while holed up at Steventon rectory, her childhood home in Hampshire.

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The fair copy of Lady Susan is the only complete surviving manuscript of Jane Austen’s fiction. Each of the other copies were most likely destroyed after printing, and neither Austen nor her family retained documents from the author’s early writing days. This manuscript of Lady Susan, which has been preserved at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York since 1947, was written out by Austen in Bath no earlier than 1805. The manuscript initially took the form of a bound quarto notebook before it was later rebound and is dedicated to Lady Knatchbull, Austen’s niece, who she considers her sister.

 

The manuscript is written in Austen’s elegant script with few corrections made to her original craftsmanship. It exemplifies Austen’s early self-assurance as a novelist and her unexpected use of modern punctuation, including dashes. 

 

The original Lady Susan manuscript by Jane Austen is to be reproduced by SP Books, an independent publishing house founded by Jessica Nelson and Nicolas Tretiakow in 2012. SP Books specializes in the publication of limited facsimile editions of manuscripts from some of history’s most prominent authors such as Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, Jean Cocteau, and Charles Baudelaire. In the past, the publishing company has produced a fair copy of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Mary Shelley’s manuscript of Frankenstein, and many others with the latest being Charles Dicken’s manuscript of Oliver Twist

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With the help of SP Books, Lady Susan’s manuscript will be coming to life for the first time. It will stage Jane Austen’s calligraphy and will be beautifully bound in a blue deluxe edition hardback with limited edition copies being numbered from 1 to 1,000. 

 

As previously stated, the book was released just a few days ago, so there is no time like the presents the grab your copy before they sell out. This book is a once and a lifetime opportunity to experience the genius work of Jane Austen and soak in her thought process while writing about the beautiful Lady Susan. It is guaranteed that after you revel in the masterpiece that is this manuscript, you will no longer forget about the dashing maiden that is Lady Susan. She will no longer be the undistinguished heroine in Austen’s novels, but the jewel among Austen’s cast of strong female characters. This manuscript by SP books will change how you look at Austen’s previous works of fiction. It will transform your thought on how books were made in this period and make you appreciate the art of calligraphy. Most of all, this manuscript will open your eyes to an underappreciated piece of fiction and will stop you from asking the question, “Who is Lady Susan?”