"Publication History" was first presented at the Jane Austen Summer Program of 2021, entitled "Jane Austen's World." Elizabeth Shand sheds light on the processes of Regency-era publishing and the publication history of Jane Austen's novels.
Does Austen’s attentiveness to the publication and sales of her work confirm, extend, or complicate your sense of her as a writer? To what degree do you think Austen identified as, and enjoyed being, a professional author?
In her Jane Austen: A Literary Life, Jan Fergus reminds us of the problems faced by women authors during Austen’s lifetime. “Proper women were modest, retiring, essentially domestic and private. Authorship of any kind entailed publicity, thrusting oneself before the public eye – thus loss of femininity” (5). More recently, Michelle Levy has summarized debates over whether Austen restrained the energy of her juvenilia for print publication: only through a process of “accommodation and domestication did Austen become publishable” (185). How do you think Austen’s status as a woman affected her route to publication? The content of her novels?