MS. MA 1034.1, Morgan Library & Museum, New York

See diplomatic display

Plan of a Novel was first printed, in selected form, in James Edward Austen-Leigh’s Memoir of Jane Austen (1870), where he omits Jane Austen’s original marginal notes with names of friends and correspondents responsible for the ‘hints’, thus weakening the flavour and sharpness of its comedy.1 Having arranged the sale in 1925 of a family collection of several Austen manuscripts, R. W. Chapman prepared a transcription and facsimile edition of the major items: Plan of a novel according to hints from various quarters, by Jane Austen; with opinions on Mansfield Park and Emma, collected and transcribed by her, and other documents printed from the original [ed. R. W. Chapman] (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926). Only 350 copies were printed and the volume remains rare.2


The manuscript descended from Cassandra Austen to the family of her younger brother, Charles Austen (1779-1852). Charles’s daughter, Cassandra Esten Austen (1808-97), owned it and made it available when her cousin, Austen-Leigh, was preparing the Memoir. It remained in the family, eventually descending to the daughters of Charles Austen’s son Charles John. Three of these daughters – Jane, Emma Florence, and Blanche Frederica Austen – offered for sale in 1925 a small collection of Austen manuscripts and memorabilia (among them some letters, verses, Opinions of Mansfield Park, Opinions of Emma, Plan of a Novel). The collection was brokered by R. W. Chapman, and divided chiefly between the British Museum and J. Pierpont Morgan, Jr. He acquired, among other items, Plan of a Novel for the Morgan Library.3

Physical structure

The manuscript, titled in the author’s hand ‘Plan of a Novel, according to hints from | various quarters.’ consists of a single piece of paper folded once to produce four pages. The piece of paper is one half of a sheet which has a 'Post' watermark and the date ‘1813’. This was folded to produce a quarto format, each page measuring 235 x 185 mm. The edges though cut, are slightly irregular, trimmed by hand, possibly by Jane Austen herself. Guides for left hand margins on each of the pages seem to have been produced by folding the edge over by 30-46 mm as Austen wrote.

The manuscript

The manuscript is unpaginated and written in black-brown iron-gall ink, with few corrections in a neat flowing hand. It clearly dates from the period of Austen’s correspondence with James Stanier Clarke (1767-1834), Domestic Chaplain and Librarian to the Prince Regent. They were corresponding between November 1815 and April 1816.

Pagination and physical structures as they are recorded in the digital edition: [p. 1]-[p. 4]

See also the conservation report.


See A Memoir of Jane Austen, ed. Kathryn Sutherland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 97-99 and accompanying notes. Back to context...
Gilson F7. Gilson notes that ‘all facsimiles in F7 are of the exact size of the originals’. Back to context...
R. W. Chapman ‘A Jane Austen Collection’, Times Literary Supplement, 14 January 1926, p. 27; Christine Nelson, ‘Jane Austen in the Morgan Library: History of a Collection’, unpublished paper presented to the New York chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America, 21 January 1995 (updated 2005) (unpaginated). It seems that through Morgan’s generosity several items remained in Britain. See Bodleian Quarterly Record, 4 (1925), 279; and Gilson F9. A detailed catalogue record for Plan of a Novel can be found on Corsair, the Morgan’s online catalogue Back to context...