Jane Austen's Literary Manuscripts remains the definitive account of the velist's surviving papers. These date from 1787 to 1817, from the beginning to the very end of her writing career. Their evidence considerably deepens our understanding of the imaginative process that stands behind the composition of the great vels. In Sanditon, the last work, we see the promise of a further and startling development in her art. The influence of her childhood reading and home life is considered in the first chapter, and a further new chapter examines Sir Charles Grandison, a work newly attributed to Jane Austen by Brian Southam in 1977. In an appendix, Southam discusses Mrs Leavis's theory concerning the relationship between Jane Austen's life and art, and between the juvenilia and the later vels.
Brian Southam is chairman of the Jane Austen Society. Among his many books are the two volumes of Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage (1968, 1987). He is also author of The Reception of Jane Austen (forthcoming from Continuum).