MS. MA 1958 (1), Morgan Library & Museum, New York

See diplomatic display

The manuscript is a single piece of paper, possibly the title-page and all that remains of a complete draft of the novel that was finally published in 1818 as Northanger Abbey.


It was purchased for the Morgan Library in 1958 by Herbert Cahoon, the Library’s Curator of Autograph Manuscripts. The item came from the New York autograph dealer Charles Hamilton and cost $15.1

Physical structure

The manuscript is a single small scrap of paper (45 x 120 mm) bearing the title ‘Susan. | a Novel in Two volumes.’ It was cut from a larger piece of paper and is now housed alongside a separate piece of grey paper to which it was once pasted. This provides the additional note ‘Miss Austen’ below in a later black ink. The grey paper would seem to have been cut from a scrap book or autograph album. Susan, though a small fragment, has one chain line to the paper showing that it was cut from a piece of paper in quarto format.

The manuscript

In the spring of 1803 Jane Austen sold to the publisher Crosby & Co. for the sum of £10 a manuscript novel in two volumes, under the title ‘Susan’. It remained unpublished. Austen enquired after it on 5 April 1809. It was eventually bought back in 1816, revised, and finally published after Austen’s death as Northanger Abbey.2 This scrap was perhaps part of the title-page of a quarto format manuscript. If so, it is the only known surviving portion of the manuscript of the novel. According to Cassandra Austen’s memorandum of the dates of composition of her sister’s novels (now also in the Morgan Library, ‘North-hanger Abby [sic] was written | about the years 98 & 99’.3

See also the conservation report.


Christine Nelson, ‘Jane Austen in the Morgan Library: History of a Collection’, unpublished paper presented to the New York chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America, 21 January 1995 (updated 2005) (unpaginated). Nelson records the sale details as Charles Hamilton Autographs, Catalogue 29 (1958), item 273. Back to context...
Jane Austen’s Letters, ed. Deirdre Le Faye, 3rd edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 174-75; A Memoir of Jane Austen, ed. Kathryn Sutherland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 105-106. Back to context...
Morgan Library, MA 2911.12 Back to context...