Home ›   |   Publications ›   |   Persuasions On-Line ›   |   Volume 38 No. 2 ›   |   “The Same Difference as between Real Lace, & Imitation”: Anna Lefroy’s Continuation of Sanditon Revisited

“The Same Difference as between Real Lace, & Imitation”: Anna Lefroy’s Continuation of Sanditon Revisited

In October 1997, the Jane Austen Society of North America held its Annual General Meeting in San Francisco.  Entitled “Sanditon: The New Direction?” it was the first and only meeting entirely devoted to Austen’s final novel, until the bicentennial conference in Cambridge took place almost twenty years later, in March 2017.  At the San Francisco meeting Kathleen James-Cavan and I presented a joint paper, subsequently published as an article in Persuasions, on Anna Lefroy’s fragmentary continuation of Sanditon.  The present essay revisits Lefroy’s contribution, focusing on its relation to her previous writings, to the letters of advice that she received from Austen as she was writing her first, never completed novel, and to some recent completions of Sanditon.

lefroy anna

Anna Lefroy

Jane Anna Elizabeth Austen (1793–1872), always known as Anna, the only child of Jane Austen’s brother James by his first wife, was a would-be author from an early age.  As a young child, she contributed to Austen’s dramatization of Samuel Richardson’s Sir Charles Grandison, although the date and extent of her part in the work remain uncertain.1  In 1812, at the age of nineteen, she again collaborated with Austen on what Austen’s niece Caroline termed a “mock heroic story,” entitled “The Car of Falkenstein” (Sutherland 247 and n. 92); regrettably, this piece has not survived.  Shortly after her marriage to Benjamin Lefroy in November 1814, and probably before Austen’s death, Anna endeavored to complete “Evelyn,” the first of two unfinished stories in Austen’s juvenile “Volume the Third.”  This attempt breaks off abruptly without much advancing the plot (Sabor, Juvenilia 363–65).  At about the same time, from early 1814 until at least as late as October 1818, she was working on a novel initially entitled “Enthusiasm” and subsequently “Which is the Heroine?”2  This too was never completed.

After giving birth to seven children and becoming a widow in 1829, Lefroy resumed her hitherto unsuccessful attempts at fiction-writing.  In 1834 she became a published author for the first time, contributing a short story, “Mary Hamilton,” to Alaric A. Watts’s elegantly illustrated annual, the Literary Souvenir.  Published semi-anonymously as “by a niece of the late Miss Austen,” it is, as Kathryn Sutherland observes, heavily indebted to Mansfield Park.  Sutherland’s assessment of “Mary Hamilton” as “a humourless and insipid tale, told with little skill” (258) is harsh but certainly more accurate than the preface to a 1927 reprint, which termed it “a kind of miniature Persuasion” (9).  This edition, published in Elkin Mathews’s Baskerville series, continues to describe the author, on the title page and in the preface, only as a “niece of the late Miss Austen.”3  Anna Lefroy’s name would not appear on a title-page until 1983, when her continuation of Sanditon was published at last. 

In the 1840s, Lefroy published at least eight works anonymously, all issued by a publisher of short, didactic children’s books, James Burns.  The first two, The Winter’s Tale (1841) and Spring-tide (1842), appeared in a series described by Burns as “amusing and instructive books, suited to children from two to twelve years of age” (Alderson 108).4  Lefroy also published a further half-dozen children’s stories in Burns’s Twopenny Tracts series as pamphlets of 24–36 pages in length, wrapped in sugar-paper covers.  These works are identified as Lefroy’s in a manuscript list compiled by her only son, George Benjamin Lefroy, who also records some fifteen further contributions to the series by four of his six sisters:  Julia Cassandra, Fanny Caroline, Louisa Langlois, and Elizabeth Lucy Lefroy (Alderson 123–25).  In addition, in the 1840s Lefroy contributed various items, initialed I.A.E.L. (for Jane Anna Elizabeth Lefroy), to Burns’s Magazine for the Young, such as a pious “Chapter on Trees” in April 1842.

On the death of her aunt Cassandra in 1845, Lefroy inherited the autograph manuscript of Sanditon, but not until some ten years later did she begin writing her continuation.  Lefroy’s surviving manuscript comprises 106 pages, taking up the story at the point where Austen leaves off, with Lady Denham’s visitors waiting for their hostess in the sitting room of Sanditon House.  After seventy-eight pages, containing some 12,000 words, we arrive at the sudden departure of Sidney Parker, summoned by Mr. Woodcock, proprietor of the Sanditon hotel, from his place at the whist table of Trafalgar House.  The final words in this section describe the heroine’s consternation:  “Charlotte felt a little nervous—What could have happened” (78).  The whist table scene contains an allusion, hitherto unremarked, that dates the fragment, or at least this part of it, to the 1850s.  Without Sidney, we are told, 

Lady Denham began to despair of her game—If a certain celebrated novel had then been written, & read, which is highly improbable by Lady D. she might have felt disposed to exclaim . . . “Are we playing at Whist, or are we not?”  (77) 

The quotation is from “My Novel,” or Varieties in English Life, a four-volume work by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, first published pseudonymously in 1853.  Previous scholars, including Mary Gaither Marshall, Deirdre Le Faye and Sutherland, have tentatively dated Lefroy’s work to the mid-1840s; the quotation pushes their estimates forward, for at least part of the manuscript, by a decade or so.5 

The remaining twenty-eight pages of Lefroy’s continuation, adding fewer than 4,000 words, are devoted to an extended portrait of Clara Brereton, providing the story of her life before Lady Denham takes her into her household.  This additional material is also fragmentary, with the last page containing several variations of the same sentence.  In its fullest form, this sentence breaks off without being concluded:  “Mrs. Brereton was slow of comprehension & had no power of receiving readily any new idea; but when she had once over come this difficulty her judgment was much clearer than that of her Husband, who consequently was” (106).  Lefroy’s attempt to complete Sanditon had evidently ground to a halt. 

After Lefroy’s death in 1872 at the age of seventy-nine, her manuscript passed down through several generations of the family, unseen by Austen scholars.  In December 1977, however, it was sold at a Sotheby’s auction by the then owners—Amyas, Alwyn, and Francis Austen—to the Chicago bookseller and publisher James Borg, who bought it for £1,900.  Six years later, it was edited by Marshall in a limited edition of 500 copies, published by Borg at his Chiron Press.  With a white cloth backstrip, blue-gray boards, and spine label, it is an attractive duodecimo volume, in the style, as Marshall observes, of Austen first editions (“Jane Austen’s Legacy” 226). 

Marshall’s edition remains the only transcription of Lefroy’s work, but the manuscript has recently changed hands twice.  In the summer of 2013, Borg sold it to the writer and producer Chris Brindle.  The great-great-great-grandson of the painter R. H. C. Ubsdell of Portsmouth, who painted Anna Lefroy’s miniature in 1845, Brindle became interested in Sanditon through this family connection.  In 2014 he wrote a two-act play, first performed at Colchester’s Headgate Theatre, using both Austen’s and Lefroy’s texts, together with material of his own.  He then released a DVD of a film based on the play, before consigning the manuscript to Sotheby’s, where it was sold in December 2016 for £12,500 to an anonymous buyer (Penney 67).  Regrettably, it remains unavailable to scholars, although it was displayed briefly during the Cambridge conference beside Austen’s Sanditon at King’s College:  the first occasion on which the two manuscripts have been together since Anna Lefroy’s granddaughter Mary Isabella Lefroy presented Austen’s manuscript to King’s in 1930. 

Critics of Sanditon have, with a few exceptions, ignored Lefroy’s work.  In an article of 1987, Le Faye convincingly refutes Marshall’s suggestion that Lefroy had an insider’s knowledge of how Austen would have developed Sanditon, quoting Lefroy’s remark in a manuscript note on Sanditon that “the story was too little advanced to enable one to form any idea of the plot” (57–58).  Janet Todd and Linda Bree endorse Le Faye’s remarks, while also commenting briefly on the continuation:  they note, for instance, that Lefroy’s idea of having boys running donkey rides on Sanditon beach might have been indebted to a poem of 1807 by Robert Bloomfield entitled “News from Worthing,” dealing “with the lot of a poor donkey trotting up and down Worthing beach, carrying delicate ladies to the door of the library” (Austen, Later Manuscripts xcviii). 

Much the fullest recent commentary on Lefroy’s continuation is that by Sutherland in Jane Austen’s Textual Lives.  Sutherland commends Lefroy’s ability to develop Austen’s characters in a convincing fashion.  Discussing the husband-hunting Beaumont sisters, for instance, and the impression they make on Arthur Parker, Sutherland points to Lefroy’s adroit creation of what she terms “a miniature courtship comedy in which Miss Letitia Beaufort’s wiles and flounces receive the appropriate tribute of Arthur’s sluggish stirrings” (254).  Sutherland, however, regrets Lefroy’s preference for black and white characters over Austen’s various shades of grey.  In introducing a new character, for instance, the obviously villainous Mr. Tracy, Sutherland contends that Lefroy “reduces the subtle moral comedy at play in Austen’s characterization in favour of a simpler division of characters into good versus bad” (257). 

Sutherland also notes, without providing examples, that the text of Marshall’s edition, which reproduces the manuscript lineation and pagination, is unreliable (252 n. 110).  Marshall deserves credit for her pioneering work in editing a difficult manuscript, but there are indeed occasional errors in her transcription, including some lines printed out of order.  In the following example, Marshall’s edition garbles the sentence by reversing lines two and three: 

They had had enough, & yet were fated before
The Evening was to be spent, as most
the end of the day to hear of them again—
of their evenings were, at Trafalgar H.  (65) 

Here and on other occasions, the confusion stems from interlineation in the manuscript.  Words are also mistranscribed.  Thus when Sidney Parker is playing at whist with Lady Denham, in Marshall’s text he declares:  “‘There!’  Triumphantly, as he turned up the trump card, the thing, My Lady!” (73–74).  In Lefroy’s manuscript, however, Sidney’s words are “the King.”6  Similarly, when Mr. Brereton finds a newspaper advertisement that he brings to the attention of his niece Clara, Marshall’s text reads “Nursing goverss wanted” (87).  The phrase “Nursing goverss,” however, makes no sense, and the childless Clara could hardly apply for a position as a wet-nurse; Lefroy must have written “Nursery goverss” (a lowly governess who could do more than attend to very young children in the nursery).7  Marshall was also unable to recover numerous words and phrases deleted by Lefroy, hampering any examination of the rationale behind Lefroy’s stylistic revisions. 

Since she set to work on her continuation of Sanditon after the publication of “Mary Hamilton” and of her many children’s stories, Lefroy should have been capable of bringing it to completion.  In the 1850s, however, Lefroy was in possession not only of Austen’s manuscript but also of five remarkable letters that her aunt had sent her forty years previously, in the latter part of 1814.  These letters, written in response to manuscript instalments of Anna’s novel in progress, “Which is the Heroine?,” throw light on Lefroy’s failure to complete Sanditon.  It is not, I believe, coincidental that, like her abortive completion, the novel also remained incomplete and unpublished:  according to her daughter Fanny Caroline Lefroy, the fragmentary manuscript was “laid by for years, and then one day in a fit of despondency burnt,” probably in the late 1820s (Austen-Leigh 235 n.76). 

Austen’s first letter to Anna on “Which is the Heroine?,” dating from mid-July 1814, takes the form of a postscript to a letter from Jane Austen’s mother, Cassandra Austen.  Anna, we find, has sent the first part of her manuscript to the Austens at Chawton, and Jane has been reading it aloud to her mother and her sister, Cassandra—as she habitually did with her own fiction too.  Four more letters on the novel follow, from mid-August to the end of November, in which Austen continues to refer to the reading sessions and summarizes the responses of the two listeners, as well as providing her own critique of her niece’s work.  Many of Austen’s objections involve points of etiquette and decorum.  In the first letter, for instance, she tells Anna, “As Lady H. is Cecilia’s superior, it wd not be correct to talk of her being introduced; Cecilia must be the person introduced” (?mid-July 1814).  In the second letter of 10–18 August, similarly, Austen writes: 

I have also scratched out the Introduction between Lord P. & his Brother, & Mr Griffin.  A Country Surgeon . . . would not be introduced to Men of their rank.—And when Mr Portman is first brought in, he wd not be introduced as the HonbleThat distinction is never mentioned at such times;—at least I beleive not.  (280) 

Advice of this kind was surely useful to Anna when, four decades later, she worked on her completion of Sanditon, in which no such breaches of etiquette can be found. 

A more rebarbative strain in Austen’s letters to Anna of 1814 consists of warnings against imitating aspects of the author’s own novels.  In one such remark, in the second letter, Austen writes:  “I do think you had better omit Lady Helena’s postscript;—to those who are acquainted with P. & P it will seem an Imitation” (10–18 August 1814).8  In the same letter, Austen declares, “The last Chapter does not please us quite so well; we do not thoroughly like the Play; perhaps from having had too much of Plays in that way lately.”  Todd and Bree, who include the letters to Anna in their edition of Austen’s later manuscripts, plausibly conjecture that Anna “had included scenes in which a performance of a play mirrored the relationships that were developing between her characters, and [Austen] saw this as too close an echo of the Lovers’ Vows episode in [Mansfield Park]” (683–84 n. 19).  There were also, moreover, play scenes embedded in two other novels of 1814, Frances Burney’s The Wanderer and Maria Edgeworth’s Patronage; if three is a crowd, Austen implies, four would be a mob.  One of the constraints, then, that these long-preserved letters might have placed on Anna in the 1850s was the need to avoid any echoing of her aunt’s novels:  her challenge was to complete Sanditon without sounding too much like the author of Sanditon herself. 

Complicating injunctions against imitation, however, was a recurring set of recommendations on the need for characters to remain consistent to themselves.  Such advice might have helped Anna improve “Which is the Heroine?,” but it imposed, I believe, severe limitations on her attempted completion of Sanditon in which the great majority of the characters had already been created by Austen.  Consider, for example, a remark in the August letter, where Austen writes: 

your Aunt C. & I both recommend your making a little alteration in the last scene between Devereux F. & Lady Clanmurray & her Daughter.  We think they press him too much—more than sensible Women or well-bred Women would do.  Lady C. at least, should have discretion enough to be sooner satisfied with his determination of not going with them. 

Having created sensible, well-bred characters, that is, Anna is advised to make them act in a uniformly sensible and well-bred fashion.  Of another character, Mrs. Forester, Austen observes in a letter of 18 September:  “Remember, she is very prudent;—you must not let her act inconsistently.”  Mrs. Forester, moreover, “is not careful enough of Susan’s health;—Susan ought not to be walking out so soon after Heavy rains, taking long walks in the dirt.  An anxious Mother would not suffer it.” 

Such remarks help account for Anna Lefroy’s overly cautious development of Austen’s characters in Sanditon.  Lefroy’s Lady Denham, for example, with her talent for producing acerbic remarks, is strikingly similar to her prototype.  Austen’s Lady Denham observes wittily, of her second marriage to Sir Harry, “‘that though she had got nothing but her title from the family, still she had given nothing for it’” (Later Manuscripts 151).  Lefroy’s Lady Denham, referring to the portrait of her late husband hanging over the fireplace at Sanditon House, likewise remarks caustically that “it is the only thing belonging to the family that I brought away with me” (5).  Everything that Lady Denham says and does in Lefroy’s continuation is “in character,” a phrase that Austen uses repeatedly in her letters of advice to her niece on writing fiction, but the character fails to develop beyond her depiction in the original work. 

Among the most memorable figures in Sanditon is the West Indian heiress Miss Lambe.  She first appears in the penultimate chapter, as one of the three charges of Mrs. Griffiths.  “Of these three,” we are told, 

Miss Lambe was beyond comparison the most important and precious, as she paid in proportion to her fortune.—She was about seventeen, half mulatto, chilly and tender, had a maid of her own, was to have the best room in the lodgings, and was always of the first consequence in every plan of Mrs. Griffiths.  (201–02) 

Miss Lambe has been the subject of excellent recent essays by Elaine Jordan and Sara Salih, and in her Penguin edition of Sanditon, Margaret Drabble responded to her with a novelist’s imagination and verve: 

I cannot help but comment on the extraordinary effect of the phrase “half mulatto, chilly and tender.”  It is as though one had entered another world.  Who would ever have thought that Miss Lambe would prove to be half mulatto?  And yet Jane Austen states the fact with the utmost calm.  As for “chilly and tender,” the words refer presumably to her state of health and response to the English climate, but if they were also intended to describe her emotional nature, what an interesting character she might have proved.  (221–22) 

For Lefroy, however, no such character development was feasible; her Miss Lambe was bound to remain nothing but “chilly and tender” in constitution only.  She first appears in a carriage, on her way to church, “carefully guarded by a thick veil, & various wraps from the chance of a summer breeze, & next to her her maid” (25).  Much worse is to come.  Unlike the vigorous, outgoing Sidney Parker and his friend Mr. Tracy, “Miss Lambe had a torpid satisfaction in being let alone; stringing her beads, or nursing her dog for two whole days in peace, without being required to go any where or take an interest in anything!  What more could her Creole nature desire?” (51).  We see no more of Miss Lambe in Lefroy’s continuation, but we hear again about her putative torpidity from Lady Denham, who tells Mrs. Parker, “you are not taking the right way . . . with this young Lady—she’s shy, & she’s timid, & she’s indolent, as I believe most West Ingins are; & she will never be anything else if you do not change your measures—She wants to be taken out & about” (66–67).  Regrettably, there is no indication that Lefroy is mocking Lady Denham’s views.  It is as though some inner voice is reminding her of her aunt’s critique of “Which is the Heroine?” and warning her not to do anything with her characters that could in any way conflict with their depiction in the opening chapters of Sanditon

One thing that Lefroy might have done is to provide us with something of Miss Lambe’s back story.  In a letter of 30 November 1814, the last of Austen’s missives to Lefroy on “Which is the Heroine?,” she commends her niece for giving just such a retrospective look at one of her principal characters, St. Julian, whose history, Austen writes, “was quite a surprise to me; You had not very long known it yourself I suspect—but I have no objection to make to the circumstance—it is very well told.”  Vexingly, the second leaf of this letter was lost or destroyed in the nineteenth century.  The first leaf ends with the opening words of a sentence, completed by Fanny Caroline Lefroy when she copied the letter in her manuscript “Family History”:  “Had not you better give some hint of St Julian’s early [history in the beginning of your story?]” (30 November 1814; 444).  If Fanny Caroline’s conjectural reconstruction is correct, Austen must have advised Lefroy to give her readers a foretaste (“some hint”) of St. Julian’s story.  And intriguingly, Lefroy does precisely this in her continuation of Sanditon.  Here, when Charlotte and Mrs. Parker return to Trafalgar House after their visit to Lady Denham, Mrs. Parker gives her inquisitive guest a garbled version of Clara Brereton’s family history: 

I fancy she had a very very wretched home—more so perhaps than you or I can form any idea of—and afterwards I mean—when the Uncle took her into his own family, it could not have been very comfortable:  she was on the point of going, you know, as a mere nursing Governess.  (10) 

This passage paves the way for the extended account of Clara, apparently intended to come somewhere in the midst of Lefroy’s continuation.  Nothing of the kind, however, is done for Miss Lambe, about whom no new information is provided:  not even her first name, her parentage, or her country of origin.  She is, in all likelihood, the daughter of a slave-owner and his mulatto mistress, but Lefroy refrains from developing what could have made this part of Sanditon a fascinating counterpart to the cryptic references to slavery in Mansfield Park and Emma

Instead, Lefroy is habitually content to enlarge on character traits provided by Austen, creating numerous instances of déjà lu.  In this respect, her treatment of Mrs. Parker is typical.  Contemplating the two-mile walk from Trafalgar House to church, across open downs on a dusty road, Lefroy’s Mrs. Parker “thought, with regret, as she had done many a previous Sunday, of the pleasant shady walk, scarce half a mile in length which had formed one of the many comforts of her former home” (24).  Austen’s Mrs. Parker, similarly, speaks nostalgically, in a conversation with her husband, of their old dwelling:  “‘It was always a very comfortable House. . . . And such a nice garden—such an excellent garden. . . . [I]it was a nice place for the children to run about in.  So shady in summer!’” (156–57).  In the same conversation, Mrs. Parker contrasts the snugness of their former home, now occupied by the Hilliers, with the perils of their new cliff-top dwelling: 

“The Hilliers did not seem to feel the storms last winter at all.—I remember seeing Mrs. Hillier after one of those dreadful nights, when we had been literally rocked in our bed, and she did not seem at all aware of the wind being anything more than common.”  (157) 

In Lefroy’s continuation, predictably enough, there is a “melancholy change of weather,” with “two stormy days & nights of cold continuous rain. . . . Over the high ground round Trafalgar House the wind swept with a force that made it difficult for even man’s strength to cross the down” (49, 50). 

Scattered throughout Austen’s letters on her niece’s novel are criticisms of its style.  Some of these concern rebarbative phrases:  “Bless my Heart,” for instance, is condemned as “too familiar & inelegant” (9–18 September 1814) and a “vortex of Dissipation” as “such thorough novel slang—and so old, that I dare say Adam met with it in the first novel he opened” (28 September 1814).  On one occasion, Austen declares that “your descriptions are often more minute than will be liked.  You give too many particulars of right hand & left” (9–18 September 1814).  More encouraging are some remarks on the characters’ conversations.  “The matrimonial Dialogue is very good certainly,” opines Austen (28 September 1814), who was also “particularly struck with your serious conversations” (30 November 1814). 

Not surprisingly, Lefroy took such remarks to heart in her continuation of Sanditon:  no obvious examples of “novel slang” obtrude, and the descriptions are never, I believe, overly minute.  As for dialogue, Lefroy displayed considerable expertise in a technique that she learned from her aunt:  the liberation from speech tags, which Anne Toner has identified as a salient feature of Austen’s mature style.  In the conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Parker about the virtues and vices of their former home, for example, the first two observations are marked by speech tags:  “said Mr. Parker” and “said Mrs. Parker” (155, 156).  In the following seven turns of the conversation, however, Austen dispenses with tags entirely.  Such omissions, as Toner remarks, force readers to stay alert, compelling them “to follow long passages of dialogue without losing their grasp of who is speaking” (148).  Lefroy, with her intimate knowledge of all of Austen’s novels, was well able to imitate this way of writing.  A conversation between Sidney Parker and Mr. Tracy, for instance, contains a remarkable twelve turns without a single speech tag to guide the reader, who may well be floundering by the time of the final remark:  “Now what are our plans for the day?” (41).  The speaker in fact is Mr. Tracy, but only a close reader of Lefroy’s continuation could be sure that it is not Sidney Parker. 

Since Anna Lefroy, seven authors to date have attempted to complete Sanditon:  from 1932, when Alice Cobbett published Somehow Lengthened: A Development of Sanditon, to 2011, the year of Anne Toledo’s A Return to Sanditon.9  Only one of these, Charlotte (2000) by Julia Barrett, a pseudonym for the American journalist and Austen adapter Julia Braun Kessler, shows an awareness of Lefroy’s work, which Kessler refers to in a brief preface to her novel.  Marie Dobbs, writing pseudonymously in 1975 as “Another Lady,” furnishes an “Apology from the Collaborator” that reveals her ignorance of both Lefroy and Cobbett:  “nobody,” Dobbs claims, “has yet attempted to finish the story” (326). 

Several of the completions come equipped with prefaces or afterwords, explaining and justifying the author’s undertaking, while acknowledging the inevitable inferiority of the completion.  Cobbett, for instance, declares that “no one can be more conscious than the writer of the gulf between her work and that fragment, the broken first draft of a work of genius, conceived by Jane Austen in the year of her death” (9).  Dobbs writes of Austen’s “terrifyingly accurate and meticulous technique” that, regrettably, cannot “be faithfully copied” (329).  Juliette Shapiro hopes that her readers will “find it in their hearts to forgive the impertinence of the sequelist” (1). 

Anna Lefroy’s Sanditon carries no such prefatory material, but she did compose two documents throwing light on her attitude both to Austen’s fragment and to her own continuation.  One of these, written on a single, untitled sheet, probably in 1867, was first published as an appendix in Marshall’s edition.  Here, after observing that “the story was too little advanced to enable one to form any idea of the plot,” Lefroy adds, rather obviously, that “Sanditon, a newly sprung up Watering Place seems intended for the principal scene of action” (153).  Predating this document is a letter of 8 August 1862 from Lefroy to her half-brother, James Edward Austen-Leigh, addressing the question of whether Austen’s manuscript might be published.  She agrees with Austen-Leigh that the manuscript “as it stands is very inferior to the published works—and perhaps by no corrections could be worked up to an equality with any other 12 opening Chapters” (Sutherland 251).  She then discusses Austen’s work in considerable detail, focusing on “the characters, so far as they are sketched.”  She is thoroughly unimpressed by Austen’s Sir Edward Denham, is reasonably content with the Heywood family, and claims that Diana, Susan, and Edward Parker “were certainly suggested by conversations which passed between Aunt Jane & me during the time that she was writing this story.”  She reserves her strongest praise for Lady Denham, who, “in the Authoresse’s hands would have been delightful—I do not feel as if I cd. ever do her justice” (251, 252). 

This intriguing remark suggests that while all too conscious of her limited powers, Anna Lefroy had not yet, in 1862, abandoned her attempted completion of Sanditon.  I differ here from Sutherland, who contends that it “makes it clear that her own aborted continuation is by now a matter of old news” (251).  The remark suggests, on the contrary, that Lefroy still had some ambitions for her work in progress.  The letter concludes with the observation that gives my paper its title: 

in nothing do I so entirely disagree with you all as in the comparison of my own addition with the original.  There seems to be just the same difference as between real Lace, & Imitation.  (252) 

Like most of the later continuers of Sanditon, Anna Lefroy was painfully aware of the disparity between her work and Austen’s, even though she found Sanditon much inferior to Austen at her best.  Unlike them, however, Lefroy was sufficiently weighed down by what Shapiro terms “the impertinence of the sequelist” that, despite her brother’s encouragement, at some point after 1862 she finally put her manuscript aside.  And when Austen-Leigh eventually published Austen’s Sanditon in abridged and edited form in the second edition of his Memoir of Jane Austen (1871), a year before Lefroy’s death, not a word is mentioned of her ever having attempted to complete her aunt’s work.



1Sir Charles Grandison was first published in 1980 in an edition edited by Brian Southam, who attributed the play to Jane Austen, although family tradition had long accorded it to Anna.  For a discussion of Anna’s possible part in its composition, see Todd and Bree (cxi–cxviii). 

2The change of title is noted by Austen in a letter to Anna of 18 August 1814.  Le Faye suggests that “Enthusiasm” was “perhaps relinquished on the discovery that Mme. de Genlis had written Les Voeux téméraires ou l’Enthousiasme (1799 or earlier)” (Austen, Letters 439 n. 1), published in translation as Rash Vows: Or The Effects of Enthusiasm (1799). 

3The preface, signed with the initials “H.V.M.,” a critic identified by Gilson (Bibliography 456) as Harold Vincent Marrot, notes that “family tradition is silent . . . as to the precise authorship of Mary Hamilton” (7).  It was first attributed to Lefroy by Gilson (“Anna Lefroy and ‘Mary Hamilton’”). 

4Alderson’s article, which mentions neither Austen nor Lefroy in its title, has been overlooked by Austen scholars. 

5In her introduction, Marshall suggests that Lefroy wrote her continuation “sometime between 1830 and 1860, most likely in the 1830’s or 1840’s” (xxviii).  Le Faye dates it to the late 1840s, “when Jane’s two manuscripts came into her possession at Cassandra’s death” (60), while Sutherland likewise conjectures that “Anna probably undertook [it] soon after 1845 when the manuscript came into her possession” (251). 

6“The King” is correctly transcribed in another version of this passage printed by Marshall (Lefroy 72). 

7I owe this point to Deirdre Le Faye (e-mail of 16 March 2017). 

8As Vivien Jones observes, there are two letters in Pride and Prejudice with postscripts:  one, mentioned but not given, from Mrs. Bennet to Jane and Elizabeth when her daughters are staying at Netherfield, and another from Jane to Elizabeth, telling her sister of Lydia’s elopement with Wickham (269 n. 171). 

9There are, in addition, various creative renditions of Sanditon in the form of fictional and screen adaptations.  These include novels by Donald Measham (using characters from Sanditon and previous Austen novels), Reginald Hill (a murder mystery set in the modern resort of Sandytown, featuring Superintendent Andy Dalziel and his sidekick Charlotte Heywood), and another murder mystery, by Carrie Bebris, with Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy as amateur detectives.  Screen adaptations include Welcome to Sanditon (2013), a multiplatform adaptation created by Jay Bushman and Margaret Dunlap, in which the action is relocated to Sanditon, California; Sanditon: Film of the Play, a DVD release directed by Chris Brindle, which uses material from both Austen and Lefroy; and Sanditon, a forthcoming full-length film starring Charlotte Rampling as Lady Denham and Holliday Grainger as Charlotte Heywood, with a screenplay by Simon Reade based on Marie Dobbs’s completion.  For a discussion of these and other adaptations, see Mary Gaither Marshall’s fine essay in Persuasions On-Line 38.1.

Works Cited
  • Alderson, Brian.  “Some Notes on James Burns as a Publisher of Children’s Books.”  Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 76.3 (1994): 103–26.
  • Austen, Jane.  Jane Austen’s Letters.  Ed. Deirdre Le Faye.  4th ed.  Oxford: OUP, 2011.
  • _____.  Jane Austen’s ‘Sir Charles Grandison.’  Ed. Brian Southam.  Oxford: Clarendon, 1980.
  • _____.  Later Manuscripts.  Ed. Janet Todd and Linda Bree.  Cambridge: CUP, 2008.
  • Austen-Leigh, J. E.  A Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections.  Ed. Kathryn Sutherland.  Oxford: OUP, 2002.
  • Barrett, Julia [Julia Braun Kessler].  Jane Austen’s Charlotte: Her Fragment of a Last Novel Completed.  New York: Evans, 2000.
  • Bebris, Carrie.  The Suspicion at Sanditon, Or, The Disappearance of Lady Denham.  New York: Doherty, 2015.
  • [Dobbs, Marie].  Sanditon by Jane Austen and Another Lady.  London: Davies, 1975.
  • Drabble, Margaret, ed.  Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon.  London: Penguin, 1974.
  • Gilson, David.  “Anna Lefroy and ‘Mary Hamilton.’”  Collected Articles and Introductions.  Privately printed, 1998.  132–34.
  • _____.  A Bibliography of Jane Austen.  Winchester: St Paul’s Bibliographies, 1997.
  • Hill, Reginald.  The Price of Butcher’s Meat.  New York: HarperCollins, 2008.
  • Jones, Vivien, ed.  Selected Letters.  By Jane Austen.  Oxford: OUP, 2004.
  • Jordan, Elaine.  “Jane Austen Goes to the Seaside: Sanditon, English Identity and the ‘West Indian’ Schoolgirl.”  The Postcolonial Jane Austen.  Ed. You-me Park and Rajeswari Sunder Rajan.  London: Routledge, 2005.  29–55.
  • Le Faye, Deirdre.  “Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Manuscript and her Niece’s Continuation.”  Review of English Studies n.s. 38 (1987): 56–61.
  • Lefroy, Anna.  Jane Austen’s Sanditon: A Continuation by her Niece, together with “Remiscences of Aunt Jane.”  Ed. Mary Gaither Marshall.  Chicago: Chiron, 1983.
  • [_____]. Mary Hamilton. By a Niece of the Late Miss Austen.  London: Mathews, 1927.
  • Marshall, Mary Gaither.  “Jane Austen’s Legacy: Anna Austen Lefroy’s Manuscript of Sanditon.”  Persuasions 19 (1997): 226–28.
  • _____.  “Jane Austen’s Sanditon: Inspiring Continuations, Adaptations, and Spin-offs for 200 Years.”  Persuasions On-Line 38.1 (2017).
  • Measham, Donald.  Jane Austen Out of the Blue.  Morrisville, NC: Lulu, 2006.
  • Penney, Christine.  “Notes on Sales 2016.”  Jane Austen Society Report for 2016:  65–69.
  • Sabor, Peter, ed.  Juvenilia.  By Jane Austen.  Cambridge: CUP, 2006.
  • Sabor, Peter, and Kathleen James-Cavan.  “Anna Lefroy’s Continuation of Sanditon: Point and Counterpoint.”  Persuasions 19 (1997): 229–43.
  • Salih, Sara.  “The Silence of Miss Lambe: Sanditon and the Fictions of ‘Race’ in the Abolition Era.”  Eighteenth-Century Fiction 18.3 (2006): 329–53.
  • Shapiro, Juliette.  Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Unfinished Novel Completed.  Berkeley: Ulysses Press, 2009.
  • Sutherland, Kathryn.  Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood.  Oxford: OUP, 2005.
  • Todd, Janet, and Linda Bree, eds.  Later Manuscripts.  By Jane Austen.  Cambridge: CUP, 2008.
  • Toledo, Anne.  A Return to Sanditon: A Completion of Jane Austen’s Fragment.  Amazon, 2011.
  • Toner, Anne.  “A ‘Said He’ or a ‘Said She’: Speech Attribution in Austen’s Fiction.”  Persuasions 34 (2012): 140–50.
‹ Back to Publication