The Juvenilia

Speaking notes from Jane Austen Society of New Zealand meeting, Wellington, 7 November 2015

By Joanne Wilkes

History of juvenilia: three vols, written over late 1780s through early 1790s, when JA from 11 to 17. Some evidence of later work on them, by JA and some of the family. Work most like beginning of a novel of the kind she later published is ‘Catharine; or The Bower’, dated Aug 1792 (when JA was 17), but later revised (eg with ref to a ‘Regency Walking-Dress’). Possibly she returned to them and mined them for ideas? A little published by Austen-Leigh, but generally not valued much by family. History of MSS very chequered, but now Vol. 1 is in Bodleian Library, Oxford, and Vols 2 and 3 in the British Library. Were published in Chapman’s edns, and have been repubd in big Cambridge edn (ed. Peter Sabor); also paperback versions, of which I use the World’s Classics edn, ‘Catharine and Other Writings’. Have received more attention since late 80s.

Can’t cover all here, so will look at the following: Continue reading “The Juvenilia”


The Ladies of Llangollen or The two most celebrated virgins in Europe

Sian Farr

In April 1778, three years after Jane Austen was born, Lady Elizabeth Fownes of Woodstock, Ireland wrote to a Dublin confidante:

My dear Mrs. Goddard, I am in the utmost distress. My dear Sally has leapt out of the window and has gone off. We hear that Miss Butler of the Castle is with her, and Mr. Butler has been here to enquire for his daughter.

“Sally” was Sarah Ponsonby, and in April 1778 after two previously attempts were foiled, she successfully eloped with Lady Eleanor Butler.

Most often referred to as Ladies of Llangollen, or as one royal described them “the two most celebrated virgins in Europe” their ‘romantic friendship’ spawned a cultish fascination that inspired poetry and “their civilized and romantic life became legendary.” Continue reading “The Ladies of Llangollen or The two most celebrated virgins in Europe”