The Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts Digital Edition gathers together in the virtual space of the web some 1100 pages of fiction written in Jane Austen’s own hand. Through digital reunification, it is now possible to access, read, and compare high quality images of original manuscripts whose material forms are scattered around the world in libraries and private collections. Unlike the famous printed novels, all published in a short span between 1811 and 1818, these manuscripts trace Jane Austen’s development as a writer from childhood to the year of her death; that is, from 1787 (aged 11 or 12) to 1817 (aged 41). Not only do they provide a unique visual record of her imagination from her teenage experiments to her last unfinished writings, these pages represent one of the earliest collections of creative writings in the author’s hand to survive for a British novelist.

The main resources in the digital edition are the manuscripts themselves, accessed through the manuscript menu and grouped chronologically and according to their material states as fair copies (the Juvenilia and Lady Susan), working drafts (The Watsons, Persuasion, Sanditon), and further materials. Each manuscript can be opened in a variety of ways: as facsimile pages which can be magnified using ‘zoomify’; as transcribed text set side by side with the original manuscript page; or through a Headnote that provides details of the manuscript’s history and physical description. Click on Manuscripts in the main menu.

To discover the editorial principles behind the edition and the technical details of how it was assembled, click on Edition.

To find out about the AHRC-funded project that underlies the edition, click on About the Project.

Click on Search to find the usage and occurrence of particular words and phrases across the whole body of the manuscripts.

The digital edition was updated on 31 July 2012 to reflect the change in ownership of the larger portion of the manuscript of The Watsons (see Head Note to The Watsons) and to address issues that had arisen in the alignment of transcriptions owing to adjustments in the size and display of the Georgia font.

Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts is a three-year AHRC-funded research project. It is a joint project of the University of Oxford and King’s College London.

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