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Jane Austen: Juvenilia

By the time she was twelve, Austen had started her literary career. The short stories, poems, satires and plays that she wrote during this time are known collectively by Janeites as the Juvenilia. Her biting sense of humor was apparent even in her earliest writings. She wrote a satiric version of English history with lines like, "His Majesty died, & was succeeded by his son Henry, whose only merit was his not being quite so bad as his daughter Elizabeth."5

In 1793 Austen began writing her first lengthy piece: Lady Susan, a novella told in the form of letters. She worked on it for two years, though it was never published in her lifetime. In 1797 she finished the first draft of a novel entitled First Impressions (which she later changed to Pride and Prejudice), but then set it aside without publishing it. She read her works-in-progress to her family, who were great boosters and editors of her work. In 1803 she sold her first manuscript, a novel entitled Susan (no relation to the story Lady Susan) to a London publisher for £10. To Austen's chagrin, the publisher did nothing with her manuscript, and it languished unpublished in his office. Austen bought it back ten years later, after sending him an angry letter.

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