Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shocking News: Jane Austen Needed an Editor!

Jane Austen Could not Spell - What Does This Change?

From newsgather.com: Jane Austen apparently could not spell. The exquisite writer was not only a poor speller, but also a poor grammarian at times. Austen had a lot of help from her editor.

A recent study by Oxford University English Professor Kathryn Sutherland revealed the truth about Austen’s spelling and grammar usage. Sutherland looked at 1,100 handwritten pages from Austen. Although Austen’s brother Henry claimed that "everything came finished from her pen," it appears that that claim was not the truth.

Sutherland read several unpublished manuscripts and found that the delicate precision of spelling and grammar is missing. In fact, there are blots and general messiness throughout. Also, Austen, like many, actually ended up breaking nearly all the rules for good English writing...

Continue reading the article at NEWS (newsgather.com) and...

A response from Vic at Jane Austen's World:

Even the most sheltered person will have been bombarded by these recent headlines:
Jane Austen had a helping hand!
Jane Austen had an editor!
Jane Austen had a spell checker!
Jane Austen couldn’t spell!
Jane Austen would have flunked English!
Jane Austen’s notes messy!
Each headline that rolled off my RSS reader became increasingly more ridiculous. What can we expect next? 

Jane Austen did not write her own novels!
Jane Austen is really a male.
Jane Austen is a fraud!

So Jane Austen’s Emma and Persuasion were heavily proofed and edited. SO WHAT!? The source for all this brouhaha is Professor Kathryn Sutherland, who, after studying 1,100 of Jane’s handwritten manuscripts up close came to the conclusion that Jane had HELP.

Continue reading the post at Jane Austen's World.

I report; you decide. :)


  1. Mary your back!!! GREAT!!!

    Yes, "the sh.. has hit the fan," since you were away.

    If you read what Professor Sutherland actually said and I've got a link to a radio interview with her on London Calling, she actually says Jane was a greater writer than we first thought. She was far more innovative and experimental than we have realised. That level of experimentation was not seen again until Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.

  2. That's interesting. It doesn't change anything, though, the stories are still hers, as are most of the words.

    Tony, thanks for the clarification! It seems the situation was not so bad, after all.

  3. Laurel Ann has a post on this topic on Austenprose today, and so it goes.