Jane Austen’s precocious literary talent was a source of entertainment to her family. There is evidence that at least one of the notebooks in which she transcribed her early writings was the gift of her father, and this suggests that he and other members of his family encouraged her to write as soon as her unusual gifts became apparent. How early that was will never be known, but, if we may judge from advice which Jane gave one of her nieces, she wrote a great deal from the age of twelve to sixteen, and later wished she had written less and read more during that period. The most prized of her extant compositions were copied up in three notebooks, and most of these opuscula bear mock dedications to members of her family. No doubt she preserved them for private entertainment; in the biographical notice which he wrote in December 1817 for the first edition of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, her brother Henry recalled her reading prowess: ‘She read aloud with very great taste and effect. Her own works, probably, were never heard to so much advantage as from her mouth; for she partook largely in all the best gifts of the comic muse’.
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- 2.Jay Arnold Levine, ‘Lady Susan: Jane Austen’ s Character of the Merry Widow’, Studies in English Literature, 1961, pp. 23 – 34.Google Scholar