Jane Austen: Juvenilia

Some of Jane Austen’s early works, written between the ages of eleven to seventeen, she copied into three notebooks. The Frippery Edition attempts to reproduce the content of those notebooks with a minimum of editorial changes. It preserves Austen’s idiosyncratic spelling, capitalisation and punctuation, as well as her erasures, corrections and errors. Some changes to typography and layout have been made to suit the ebook format.

The ebooks are in epub 3 format and are DRM-free. Users of Kindle readers should be able to transfer them using the Send-to-Kindle service.

The second volume is available with or without the portraits in The History of England.

Downloads:

Volume the First
Volume the Second (with images)
Volume the Second (text only)
Volume the Third

Production notes

The Gatehouse, Reading Abbey, by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm.

The sign on the left reads “Boarding School for Young Ladies; French & English”. This was the Abbey House School, attended by Cassandra and Jane Austen in 1785-6.

The image comes from the Yale Center for British Art via Wikimedia. The watercolour is undated but Reading Museum has an almost identical drawing by the same artist dated April 1778.

The aim of the Frippery Edition is to reproduce the contents of the three volumes of Juvenilia in their final state. Unlike a scholarly work it does not attempt to trace the development of the text; and unlike a popular edition it tries to avoid gratuitous editorial changes.

This work relies heavily on previous transcriptions of the text. It is particularly indebted to the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts Digital Edition. This provides access to images of the manuscripts of many of Austen’s works. The text of the Frippery Edition has been carefully compared to these images.

All references to page numbers in the manuscripts follow the convention of the Digital Edition.

Some aspects of Austen’s punctuation are difficult to reproduce in an ebook.

Many more words are capitalised than would now be the case. In some contexts the use of a capital is very clear, but in the general flow of text there is often little to distinguish between a capital and a lower case letter. I have generally followed the reading of the Digital Edition, though sometimes reluctantly.

There are a variety of minor errors throughout. These have been left in place since, as Austen said (in a letter to Cassandra regarding the publication of Pride and Prejudice):
I do not write for such dull elves
As have not a great deal of ingenuity themselves.

There may be doubts as to whether all of the alterations to the manuscripts were made by Austen herself. Since I am not a Scholar of English Literature I have accepted them all regardless, apart from the continuations of Evelyn and Catharine in Volume the Third, which have been excised without mercy.

Volume the First

R W Chapman’s 1933 edition of the first notebook is available in PDF format on Wikisource: Volume the First.

A particular problem of formatting occurs in Sir William Mountague (p109). The text can be approximately displayed in HTML as:

Sir William bade her name her price. She fixed on 
S.
14
.

This format is commonly used in Austen’s letters to represent monetary amounts. In the ebook it has been rendered as “She fixed on S./14.” and left to the ingenuity of the Reader to convert to the intended 14 shillings.

Fourteen shillings might seem a strange amount. It is two thirds of a guinea (which is 21 shillings). During Austen’s lifetime a seven shilling coin was produced, the ‘third guinea’.

In the plays The Visit and The Mystery I’ve taken some liberties with the formatting. Small capitals have been used for the names of the characters, though this isn’t authentic and doesn’t work in all readers.

Chapman has a particularly high density of errors in The Three Sisters.

One or more of these errors persist even in fairly recent editions.

Volume the Second

King’s College from the East, by an unknown artist, 1837. From the collection of Aberdeen Archives, Galleries & Museums.

“... in the society of young Danvers with whom she became acquainted at Aberdeen (he was at one of the Universities there,)...” Lesley Castle, Letter the Third.

The 1922 edition of the second notebook is available from the Internet Archive as Love and freindship and other early works. Project Gutenberg has epub versions as Love and Freindship [sic]. (Though, of course, I believe the Frippery Edition is superior.)

The spoof bank draft on p67 of the manuscript is identified in the Digital Edition as being in the hand of Henry Austen. Since it immediately follows the Dedication to him of Lesley Castle this seems entirely likely.

In several places in Lesley Castle the Digital Edition has ‘diminished’ and ‘diminishing’ where the 1922 edition reads ‘diminushed’ and ‘diminushing’. I agree with the latter. (Letter the Fifteenth of Love and Freindship definitely has ‘diminished’.)

Uniquely among the works in the Juvenilia The History of England includes illustrations, in the form of royal portraits drawn by Austen’s sister Cassandra. To save myself the trouble of processing the original images I’ve used those from the scan of the 1922 edition. For some reason this omits the portrait of Richard the Third, so I’ve taken that from a scan on the British Library website.

The images considerably increase the size of the ebook so, as noted above, a text-only version of Volume the Second is also provided.

Volume the Third

The final volume contains only two works. Of these the second is the more troublesome.

Firstly, it is rather long. The story flows so rapidly that there are few obvious places where chapter breaks can be introduced, as seems necessary for the convenience of the Reader. I’ve chosen to split it roughly into thirds: events before the day of the Ball, the day of the Ball, and events subsequent to that.

Another complaint is the lack of consistency in applying changes to the text.

Despite the care expended in the production of this edition it’s very likely some errors remain. They can be reported to me using the link below.


Ron Yorston
13th November 2023 (updated 22nd December 2023)