Mansfield Park — What did Jane Austen Really Write? The Texts of 1814 and 1816

  • Brian Southam


Questions of textual transmission and textual authority have not hitherto arisen with Austen partly because the published texts are relatively problem-free and partly because the evidence is so thin. Apart from a single fragment, the two so-called ‘cancelled’ chapters of Persuasion, an earlier version of the novel’s ending, nothing of the manuscripts of the six novels has survived. However, the publication of the Penguin and Norton editions ofMansfield Park directs our attention to an area of uncertainty between the published texts and what Austen actually wrote. Mansfield Park has an important place in this enquiry as one of the only two novels — the other is Sense and Sensibility — that was revised and corrected by Austen for a second edition; and it is in their differing choice of copy-text that Kathryn Sutherland and Claudia Johnson have raised the question posed in the title of this essay; and, alongside it, and equally important, the question of textual authority as between the first edition, published by Thomas Egerton in 1814, and the second edition, published by John Murray in 1816.


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© Brian Southam 2005

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  • Brian Southam

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