Add. MS. 65381, British Library, London

See diplomatic display

The manuscript takes its name from the inscription on its upper cover. Jane Austen used a ready-made bound blank stationer’s notebook. It contains two early novels, ‘Evelyn’ and ‘Catharine, or the Bower’, neither of which is finished in Austen’s own hand. The Contents page is signed ‘Jane Austen – May 6th 1792’. The manuscript is mostly autograph but with some material in at least two further and later hands: those of Austen’s nephew, James Edward Austen, and her niece, Jane Anna Elizabeth Lefroy. It was the last of the three notebooks to be published, edited by R. W. Chapman in 1951 in an edition uniform with his earlier transcriptions of the mature fiction manuscripts and Volume the First. Chapman had not received family permission to publish Volume the Third until 1949 and it remained in Austen family hands until late in the twentieth century.


Jane Austen died in July 1817 and, by the terms of her will, her sister Cassandra inherited her manuscripts. In keeping with the pencil inscription on its first page, ‘for James Edward Austen’, with the further name ‘Leigh’ inscribed below (not before 1837, the date at which James Edward Austen added ‘Leigh’ to his surname), Volume the Third presumably passed at Cassandra’s death to their nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh (1798-1874). It was passed down in the Austen-Leigh family, belonging to James Edward’s grandson, Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh when Chapman published his edition in 1951. It remained in the family until 1976, more recently in the joint possession of Joan Austen-Leigh and Valerie Peyman, daughters of R. A. Austen-Leigh’s cousin Lionel Arthur Austen-Leigh. It was deposited in the British Museum in 1963 and was shown as Item 8 in the British Library’s Jane Austen exhibition, December 1975-February 1976. It was bought by the British Rail Pension Fund, 14 December 1976 (Sotheby’s, London, Lot 172), for £30,000. It was bought by the British Library, 27 September 1988, with the aid of a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, for £120,000 (Sotheby’s, London, a sale on behalf of the British Rail Pension Fund, Lot 108; Lot 109 in the same sale was the larger portion of The Watsons).1

The notebook

A shop bought late eighteenth-century stationer’s small quarto notebook bound in full parchment pasted over millboard, impossible to date precisely, it is similar in size and decoration to Volume the Second. Like Volume the Second, front and back boards have a blind tooled border formed with a double fillet. The fillet runs the length and breadth of the millboard approx. 8 mm. from the edges and crossing in the corners. The paper used is laid and of a single stock with an undated watermark and countermark (figure of Britannia and the royal cipher ‘GR’ surmounted by a crown), similar though not identical to the paper used for Volume the First. The text-block comprises 5 regular quires originally folded from 37 half sheets of cream handmade single-faced laid foolscap paper. The edges of the leaves are plain cut and sprinkled red. Quire 4 with 10 leaves is short three bifolia (all others have 16 leaves), which is probably a mistake by the binder. The notebook’s construction is the same as that found in the two notebooks that form Volume the First and Volume the Second. Six additional loose leaves (fs. 66-69, iii-iv) are kept with the notebook in a paper four-flap folder: fs. 66-69 in the hand of Jane Anna Elizabeth Lefroy and two loose sheets of notes (fs. iii-iv) in the hand of R.W. Chapman.2

Dimensions: 202 x 166 x 18 mm. (text-block 196 x 161 x 12 mm.); loose sheets (fs. 66-69) 194 x 155 mm. (largest), 147 x 157 mm (smallest).

British Library foliation: vi + 69 leaves

The manuscript

The manuscript is written and corrected throughout in a variety of black-brown iron-gall inks. The cover of the left board has a large inscription ‘Volume the Third’ in dark brown iron-gall ink and the spine has the inscription ‘aft. 18’ at the head in a matching ink. A pencil inscription on the pastedown of the left board reads ‘Effusions of Fancy | by a very Young Lady | Consisting of Tales | in a Style entirely new’, perhaps in the hand of Jane Austen’s father, the Reverend George Austen.3 There are also evident on the left pastedown the remains of a label of the kind attached to both Volume the First and Volume the Second. On the top right edge of the first page, in what seems to be Cassandra Austen’s hand, is the pencil inscription ‘for James Edward Austen’, with the further name ‘Leigh’ added below it (see under Provenance). This first leaf is unpaginated (inferred pagination [iii-iv] in the pagination table below) and forms the Contents page signed across the top ‘Jane Austen – May 6th 1792’; the verso of the Contents page (the dedication ‘To Miss Mary Lloyd’) is signed ‘The Author’. Austen begins her pagination on the next leaf, the opening of ‘Evelyn’, as page 1. Her pagination runs continuously p. 1-p. 21; with [p. 22-p. 30] unpaginated. Austen’s hand breaks off on line 5 of p. 21, with the words ‘rode on a full gallop all the way’. P. 21-p. 27 are subsequently filled with a completion to the story in another hand, possibly that of James Edward Austen. This continuation is unpaginated, as are the following two pages, which remain blank. The next page, also unpaginated ([p. 30]), contains Austen’s dedication of ‘the following novel’ (‘Catharine’) ‘To Miss Austen’ (ie. her sister Cassandra). Austen’s pagination then continues: p. 31 (the opening of ‘Catharine’) -p. 39; [p.40];4 p. 41-p. 124; p.125 is unpaginated; p. 126-p. 127 are paginated in a different hand; p.128 is unpaginated and blank. ‘Catharine’ occupies pp. 30-127 and is also left incomplete by Austen. Her hand breaks off six lines from the foot of p. 124, with the words ‘conduct of Young Men’. The story continues for just over three pages (p. 124- p. 127) in another hand or hands (again James Edward Austen), but this continuation also remains incomplete. The final five leaves of the manuscript remain blank and unpaginated ([p. 129]- [p. 138]). Four separate sheets, loosely inserted in the notebook, form an alternative continuation to ‘Evelyn’ and are signed ‘J. A. E. L.’ (Jane Anna Elizabeth Lefroy). The modern BL foliation of fs. 66-69 places them after the end of the bound leaves of the whole manuscript (whose final folio is 65), but their textual place lies at p. 21, as an alternative ending to ‘Evelyn’ from that provided by James Edward Austen (p. 21-[p. 22-p. 27]). In the pagination table below they are accordingly given the inferred pagination [21a]-[28a], several of these pages being blank as JAEL writes on one side of the leaf only.

Pagination and physical structures as they are recorded in the digital edition: front (left) board; front (left) pastedown; [p. iii]-[p. iv]; p. 1-p. 21; [p. 22-p. 30]; p. 31 –p. 39; [p. 40]; p. 41-p. 124; [p. 125]; p. 126- p. 127; [p. 128- p. 138]; [p. 21a]-[p. 28a]; back (right) pastedown; back (right) board.

See also the conservation report.


Gilson F14; Sotheby’s, Catalogue of Valuable Autograph Letters, Literary Manuscripts, and Historical Documents (London, 1976), pp. 97-8; Sotheby’s, Catalogue of Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts (London, 1988), p. 137. A detailed catalogue record for Volume the Third can be found in the British Library’s online manuscript catalogue Back to context...
For more information, see Andrew Honey’s detailed physical description of the construction and present state of the notebook under Conservation Reports. Back to context...
It is not clear on whose authority the hand has been identified as that of Jane Austen’s father. Sotheby’s Catalogue (1976) describes the hand as ‘unidentified’; but in Catalogue (1988) as ‘in the hand of Jane Austen’s father, the Rev. George Austen’. The identification is repeated in the British Library Manuscript Catalogue entry; in Deirdre le Faye, Jane Austen: A Family Record (1989; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 78; and in Juvenilia, ed. Peter Sabor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. xxvi. Back to context...
[p.40] has been mispaginated as p.41. This stands uncorrected even though the following page is also numbered, correctly, as 41. Back to context...