A Memoir of Jane Austen - Publication


James Edward Austen-Leigh began writing the Memoir on 30 March 1869 and finished it five months later in September. It was published on 16 December 1869 (though dated 1870) in an edition of about 1,000 copies. In 1871, Austen-Leigh published a second edition, which contained additional letters, family papers, and biographical material. He also included fragments of unfinished and unpublished Jane Austen manuscripts, namely a chapter Austen deleted from Persuasion and extracts from Sanditon as well as Lady Susan and The Watsons.

Used as a frontispiece for the Memoir was a portrait of Jane Austen drawn by James Andrews of Maidenhead. Based on a "slight watercolour sketch" made by Cassandra around 1810, Andrews produced a professional portrait that served as a model for a steel engraving. As Sutherland notes, "its difference from Cassandra's original is evident to the most cursory glance. Her crude pencil and watercolour likeness is sharp-faced, pursed-lipped, unsmiling, scornful even, and withdrawn; in its Victorian refashioning, the face is softer, its expression more pliant, and the eyes only pensively averted." Andrews paid great attention to the details of Austen's dress and the chair. Cassy Esten, who owned the original sketch, wrote of the portrait: "I think the portrait is very much superior to any thing that could have been expected from the sketch it was taken from.—It is a very pleasing, sweet face,—tho’, I confess, to not thinking it much like the original;—but that, the public will not be able to detect."

  • Austen Leigh, James Edward, A Memoir of Jane Austen, Reissued by Cambridge University Press 2009, ISBN 978-1-108-00357-5

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