Persuasions #15, 1993 Pages 63-68
Looking for Jane in All the Wrong Places:
Collecting Books in Gilson’s Category J
Chicago, IL 60611
Those who don’t collect first editions, or illustrated editions, or foreign editions, or – fill in your own special focus – sometimes collect completions.
One of the most interesting sections in David Gilson’s Bibliography1 is “J, Continuations and Completions.” In Gilson’s definition, a “continuation” tells us “particulars of the subsequent career of one or more characters”; on the other hand, “it was perhaps inevitable that [The Watsons and Sanditon] should be thought to demand completions.”2
J is a category whose books dozens of Janeites have chosen to collect. But what to collect? J’s entries number 14, and conclude with those issued in 1975.3 The count is more than double that today. Mansfield Park is the new favorite focus – The Watsons held the title in Gilson.
(To keep the record straight, The Jane Austen Companion4 also features two chapters of similar mien: “Sequels” – Gilson’s continuations – by Marilyn Sachs, which notes sequels produced up to 1984, and “Completions,” by David Hopkinson, listing only The Watsons and Sanditon, which chapters together include all titles of Gilson’s Category J.)
(In a detectorial mode, we noted that Hopkinson’s article, while mentioning The Watsons: A Novel by Jane Austen and Another, does not reveal that “Another” is himself, even though Gilson mentions it in his earlier-released work.)
C and C’s are fun to read – once you accept that no one has ever been able to match Austen’s style and wit (as authors have been known to do with Rex Stout, for instance, or A. Conan Doyle). The books are relatively easy to find, and prices are not astronomical (yet), at least not for post-Gilson titles. One gets in at the beginning, as it were, as opposed to collecting in his Category A, first editions, of which such a limited number are available, and at ever-escalating prices.
Mansfield Park, An Alternative Ending, by Anne Owen and Dorothy Allen, has been a good read since its appearance in 1989. And, to prove you can’t judge a book (booklet, actually) by its cover, it enjoys the dubious honor of being the singularly most unattractive volume we have ever seen, with dishwater gray wrapper, print reduced to 6 point, the whole condensed into 20 pages.
Mrs. Rushworth, by Victor Gordon, bustled into this country in 1990. It attracts attention because within its plot, the characters discuss Mansfield Park, and Maria continues to fascinate us.
Judith Terry, a Janeite from Canada, is also besmitten by MP, and has taken us on a belowstairs tour at the stately mansion. In Canada, her book appeared (1986) as Miss Abigail’s Part or Version and Diversion; it became Version and Diversion in the United States.
Quite a number of established writers love to show off their erudition – or imagination – and rewrite, or update, Jane Austen. Reginald Hill, a big name in mystery circles, has made a mystery of Emma, tilling it “Poor Emma” in his book of short stories and a novella, There Are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union.
Another mysterious continuation is Darkness at Pemberley (1923), by Terence Hanbury White. This is the same T. H. White who has written The Once and Future King, Mistress Masham’s Repose, and other novels of fantasy. DAP is somewhat confusingly listed in Gilson’s “Category L, Miscellaneous Entries.” Its characters, Sir Charles Darcy and his sister Elizabeth, are descendants of JA’s Darcy and Elizabeth.
Exactly 50 years after the appearance of a book titled Jane Fairfax, by Naomi Royde Brown, Joan Aiken, best known for gothic and juvenile novels, depicted Jane Fairfax (E) in a novel of the same name. Earlier, Aiken had taken another look at MP and called it Mansfield Revisited (1984).
A Canadian, Joan Austen-Leigh, has put pen to paper to bring us an account in the manner of the period: the epistolary novel. Mrs. Goddard, Mistress of a School, Another View of Emma debuted at the JASNA conference last October in Lake Louise, Alberta. Mrs. Goddard is the exact story of Austen’s Emma as related by a heretofore marginal character. Joan Austen-Leigh, a collateral descendant of Jane Austen, uses extensively the chronology of the Jo Modert facsimile letters and R. W. Chapman’s edition of the works. Ms. Austen-Leigh also has written novels and prize-winning plays.
Two other continuations debuted at Lake Louise. His Cunning or Hers: A Postscript to Persuasion, only the second continuation of Persuasion on record, made its appearance as a conference memento. June Menzies of Edmonton composed it, Juliet McMaster did the illustrations.
At the same meeting, Margaret Drabble, an English author and prolific writer, read a short story she had created just for JASNA Janeites, a continuation of Persuasion, thus making it the third entry for that novel.
Two sequels of Pride and Prejudice vied for attention at year-end. First to appear was Presumption by the pseudonymous Julia Barrett, which was first offered on the North American continent at Lake Louise. “Julia” is Julia Braun Kessler and Gabrielle Donnelly. (The reason for this evasionary tactic on the part of the authors is never made clear.) The book takes up the story of Georgiana Darcy, and involves dozens of Elizabeth’s and Fitzwilliam’s acquaintances. It also freely adapts Jane Leigh-Perrot’s lace episode.
Next up, Pemberley, was brought to life in Britain by best-selling author Emma Tennant. Blurbs for the public read, it is “a remarkably satisfying look at what might have happened after [Darcy and Elizabeth’s] wedding.” For the Janeite, four words tell the story: Pemberley House is entailed.
Two continuations difficult to locate are Virtues and Vices (P ) by Grania Beckford (1981), and Gambles and Gambols, A Visit with Old Friends, by Memoir (1983). The kindest word to describe the former is soft pornography. The second features mainly characters from MP. Both appeared only in paperback format.
English writer Jane Gillespie has made a small career of co-opting Jane’s characters and determining their lives. Ladysmead (1982), continues the story of characters from MP. Teverton Hall (1983) recounts subsequent adventures of characters from P&P. Brightsea (1987) resurrects the Misses Steele from S&S, and Aunt Celia (1990) has just turned up – it is the story of Frank Churchill of E and his daughter Stella, who visit Mr. Weston’s daughter, Celia.
The Minor Works have their share of completions. One book bears the title Lady Susan, from the epistolary novel of the same name, by Phyllis Ann Karr (1980). An aside: Perhaps the reason this book and the others are difficult to locate, except in garage sales, is that used book dealers generally don’t stock Regency novels unless they are hardback and by Georgette Heyer; and they particularly don’t stock novels with Harlequin-type covers of lovers in jeopardy (a Freudian reading of the LS dust jacket).
A continuation of Sanditon by Anna Lefroy, written about 1830, was finally brought to print in 1983, titled: Jane Austen’s Sanditon: A Continuation by Her Niece, Together with Reminiscences of Aunt Jane by Anna Austen Lefroy. The niece and Ms. Lefroy are one and the same. (Transcribed, edited and with an introduction by Mary G. Marshall.)
Textermination (1992), by Christine Brooke-Rose took Emma, Mr. Elton, Mme. Bovary and other literary figures to San Francisco in a grand melange of characters and action.
Items to consider in what could be another category, or sub-category, are stories which elucidate or imagine events in Austen’s life, rather than the lives of her characters. (Gilson does not distinguish between these two categories.)
Gilson places Parson Austen’s Daughter (1949), a novelized version of Austen’s life, in the “M” category (Biography and Criticism). Thus a novel of Austen in Australia by Barbara Ker Wilson, Antipodes Jane (1985), would probably fit there. A short piece not listed in Gilson is faux-bio: Ring Lardner’s story, “How I Threw Big Party for Jane Austen,” wherein Jane goes to Hollywood.
We have Sidmouth Letters, Jane Gardam (1980), a story of the finding of Austen’s love letters to her intended, and The Jew of Bath, Marianne Luban (1990), which proposes that the intended of Jane was indeed a Jew. (And with what courage has Ms. Luban chosen her writing vehicle: a lost – and destroyed – letter of Jane’s recounting the tale!) Margaret Evans Porter’s Sweet Lavender gives Jane herself a walk-on part in a classic Regency romance.
J. A. Sweetman has written a parody of Austen’s life in a brief piece in How to Become Absurdly Well-Informed about the Famous and Infamous (1987). In the same vein, David Watkin has turned out a parody in a small book presenting excerpts in the style of famous authors. Jane’s is from Unpleasantness at the OK Corral.
Sometimes titles are the only continuation – and Gilson has no category for those. A book which appeared briefly, and shall be mentioned just as briefly, is The Book of Sequels (1990). In magazine format, dozens of imaginary titles are illustrated, including Pride with Extreme Prejudice, which “introduces the other Bennet sister, (dirty) Harriet,” but there are no narratives within.
Perhaps the first continuation ever was Ostentation and Liberality (1821), although it is not listed in Gilson. Concerned with the moral education and attainment of “sensibility” of Frances Austen, it brings in Lady Jane, Mr. Austen, and Miss Colville, the governess. Arabella Argus, noted as a children’s author, clearly had read the works of our favorite author.
We are still pondering the Victorian novel, Simplicity and Fascination, Anne Beale (1886), whose characters include Miss Burton, Lady Georgiana, Sir Thomas Mansford, Louisa, and Captain Burford, among dozens, but which does not seem to be a continuation.
Closer on the mark is Horse Sense and Sensibility (1926), truly a book on horses, but whose author, Crascredo, mentions Jane Austen on page 1, thus proving he knew what he was doing when he titled the book.
The jury is still out on Sense and Sensuality (1985), a novel by Rosalind Brackenbury. It may be that the title is the only continuation.
As we go to press, we have learned that Joan Aiken has narrowed the gap between her and front-runner Jane Gillespie as writer of the most sequels. Ms. Aiken’s third continuation, Eliza’s Daughter, is due in April. The work is touted as “a crafty sequel to Sense and Sensibility.”
1 David Gilson, A Bibliography of Jane Austen , Oxford, Clarendon Press, reprinted with corrections, 1985, 877 p.
2 Gilson, Bibliography, p. 421.
3 There were no publications in this category between 1975 and 1978, when the Bibliography ends.
4 The Jane Austen Companion, J. David Grey, ed., NY, Macmillan, 1986, 511 p.
Aiken, Joan, Eliza’s Daughter, NY, St. Martin’s Press, 1994.
—, Jane Fairfax, Jane Austen’s Emma through another’s eyes, NY, St. Martin’s Press, 1990.
—, Jane Fairfax, A Novel to complement Emma by Jane Austen, London, Victor Gollancz, 1990.
—, Mansfield Revisited, Garden City, Doubleday, 1985.
Allen, Dorothy and Owen, Ann, Mansfield Park, An Alternative Ending, Coventry, 1989.
Argus, Arabella, Ostentation and Liberality. A Tale. Two Volumes. London, William Darton, 1821.
Ashton, Helen, Parson Austen’s Daughter, NY, Dodd Mead & Co., 1949.
—, Parson Austen’s Daughter, London, Collins, 1949.
Austen, Jane, and Another [David Hopkinson], The Watsons A Novel, London, Peter Davies, 1977.
Austen-Leigh, Joan, Mrs. Goddard, Mistress of a School, subtitled Letters from Highbury: Another View of Emma, Victoria, A Room of One’s Own Press, 1993.
Barrett, Julia, Presumption An Entertainment, A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice, NY, M. Evans, 1993.
Beale, Anne, Simplicity and Fascination, Boston, Lee and Shepard, 1886.
Beard, Cerf, Durkee & Kelly, The Book of Sequels, NY, Random House, 1990. “Pride with Extreme Prejudice,” p. 19.
Beckford, Grania, Virtues & Vices, A delectable rondelet of love and lust in Edwardian times, NY, St. Martin’s Press, 1980.
Brackenbury, Rosalind, Sense and Sensuality, NY, Taplinger, 1987.
Brooke-Rose, Christine, Textermination, Manchester, Carcanet, 1991.
Brown, Naomi Royde Smith, Jane Fairfax A New Novel, London, Macmillan, 1940.
Crascredo, Horse Sense & Sensibility, London, Country Life, 1926.
Drabble, Margaret. “A Fiction,” Raleigh, NC, Persuasions, No. 15, 1993.
Gardam, Jane, The Sidmouth Letters, NY, Morrow, 1980. “The Sidmouth Letters,” p. 145-66.
Gillespie, Jane, Aunt Celia, NY, St. Martin’s Press, 1990.
—, Brightsea, A Regency Novel in the Jane Austen Tradition, NY, St. Martin’s Press, 1987.
—, Ladysmead, A Novel in the Jane Austen Tradition, St. Martin’s Press, 1982.
—, Teverton Hall, A novel in the Jane Austen tradition by the author of Ladysmead, NY, St. Martin’s Press, 1983.
—, Teverton Hall, London, Robert Hale, 1983.
Gilson, David, A Bibliography of Jane Austen, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1982.
Gordon, Victor, Mrs. Rushworth, London, Andre Deutsch, 1989.
Grey, J. David, ed., The Jane Austen Companion, NY, Macmillan, 1986.
Hill, Reginald, There Are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union, Woodstock, VT, Foul Play Press, 1988. “Poor Emma,” p. 168-213.
Karr, Phyllis Ann, Lady Susan based on the unfinished novel by Jane Austen, NY, Everest House, 1980.
Lardner, Ring, The Story of a Wonder Man, Being the Autobiography of Ring Lardner, NY, Scribner’s, 1927. “How I Threw Big Party for Jane Austen,” p. 29-36.
Lefroy, Anna Austen, Jane Austen’s Sanditon: A continuation by Her Niece Together with “Reminiscences of Aunt Jane,” Chicago, Chiron Press, 1983.
Luban, Marianne, The Samaritan Treasure, Minneapolis, Coffee House Press, 1990. “The Jew of Bath,” p. 81-108.
Memoir, Gambles and Gambols: A Visit With Old Friends (based on characters created by Jane Austen), Pasadena, Shelter Cove, 1983.
Menzies, June, His Cunning, or Hers … A Postscript to Persuasion, illus. Juliet McMaster, Edmonton, U. of Alberta, 1993.
Parrot, E., compiler, How to Become absurdly well-informed about the famous and infamous, NY, Viking, 1987. J. A. Sweetman, “Jane Austen.”
Porter, Margaret Evans, Sweet Lavender, NY, Walker, 1992.
Tennant, Emma, Pemberley or Pride and Prejudice Continued, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1993.
—, Pemberley or Pride and Prejudice Continued, NY, St. Martin’s, 1993.
Terry, Judith, Miss Abigail’s Part or Version and Diversion, Toronto, Macmillan of Canada, 1986.
—, Version and Diversion, NY, Morrow, 1986.
White, T. H., Darkness at Pemberley, NY, The Century Co., 1933.
Wilson, Barbara Ker, Antipodes Jane, A Novel of Jane Austen in Australia, NY, Viking, 1985.
Zaranka, William, ed., Literature in Briefs (Great Writers Indecently Exposed), Cambridge-Watertown, Apple-wood Books, 1983. David Watkin, “Jane Austen,” from The New Statesman, 1975.