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Jane Austen's Rival...

This is a very interesting article on Queen Charlotte's interesting collection of books in which Jane Austen took an important part, and the mistaken identity of the author of the book "Self-control", listed amongst Austen's books.


"Jane Austen's rival
H. J. JACKSON

Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, was a serious collector of books and prints in her own right. Surely the only British queen ever to have learnt how to set type, she also set an intellectual example to the ladies of the kingdom. The sale catalogue of her library, auctioned by Christie's in June and July 1819, included over 500 lots of prints and drawings and almost 5,000 of books, organized by subject; theology alone took three-and-a-half days to clear. While it is interesting to see just what the Queen and her daughters might have been reading (in English, French, Italian and of course German) on sundry topics in religion, law and history, the student of literature is naturally drawn to the pages that list plays, poetry and novels, and in this last category it is surprising to find two titles most of us have never heard of listed under the name of Jane Austen.


The Queen had died in November 1818. Her collection included Austen's posthumous publications, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, published in December 1817 with the "biographical notice" that named Austen publicly as an author for the first time and correctly identified all her novels. Between them, then, the Queen's librarian and Christie's cataloguer should have known better than to add to the list the forbiddingly titled "Self-Control and Discipline". But they did not. It is an intriguing error. It must signal the presence of qualities that contemporaries associated with Austen; mere carelessness would not account for the addition of these anonymously published titles to the set of her works rather than to somebody else's. Their author was not formally identified until 1819 - too late for the sale catalogue - when her widower published Emmeline. With Some Other Pieces. By Mary Brunton, Author of Self-Control, and Discipline. .."



Read the entire article here:

Source: Times Literary Supplement, 5 April 2006

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