- Troubador Publishing, 2020 234x156 mm. X, 364 pp. Hardcover with dust jacket.
Until the appearance in 1870 of the Memoir written by her nephew J.E. Austen Leigh, very little was known about Jane Austen beyond what could be deduced from her major novels. This had been the family's choice. Despite this lack of information Deidre Le Faye records that following the acceptance of Jane’s novel Susan for publication in 1803, “according to family tradition, she had composed the plot of another full-length novel”. This, Two Girls of Eighteen, never previously identified as Jane’s, was published in 1806 but at some point apparently suppressed. Only two copies are known to exist - one in the Deutsch Nationalbibliothek and the one from which the present text has been transcribed, which came from a house that Jane knew and is mentioned by her in A Collection of Letters. Two Girls of Eighteen has a divided structure, involving two sisters, Charlotte and Julia, each of whom is given her own story, the one a Romance partly based on Richardson’s Clarissa, the other a Gothic confection - both set in contemporary England. There is evidence in the Letters that the book may have been financed by Mrs. Austen, and Jane, who was evidently suffering from depression at the time, as is suggested by the text, may not herself have revised the final manuscript.