Unfinished Austen: Interpreting "Catharine", "Lady Susan", "The Watsons" and "Sanditon"

Unfinished Austen: Interpreting "Catharine", "Lady Susan", "The Watsons" and "Sanditon"

By Joanne Wilkes

Anthem Nineteenth-Century Series

Unfinished Austen is the first detailed study of four texts that Jane Austen left incomplete and unpublished: Catharine, or the Bower (1792–3), Lady Susan (1795?), The Watsons (1803–4?) and Sanditon (1817).

Hardback, 250 Pages


August 2023

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

Unfinished Austen is a scholarly monograph which examines four texts left incomplete by Jane Austen: Catharine, or the Bower (1792–-3), Lady Susan (1795?), The Watsons (1803–-4?) and Sanditon (1817). None was published till well after her death. They have never received nearly as much attention as the six novels that appeared between 1811 and 1817, and this is the first study to examine them in detail, and in relation to each other.

These unfinished texts are fascinating for several reasons. Since very little in manuscript form survives from the six famous novels, these four manuscript texts offer insight into the novelist in the process of creation. All of them feature alterations that show Jane Austen refining her language and demonstrating the orientation of her thinking. The unfinished works also problematize the romance plot salient in the published novels by presenting this in a nebulous or incipient state that underlines its artificiality. In doing so, these texts sometimes draw attention to how the romance plot is inflected by the financial condition in which young marriageable women can find themselves. 

Notable as well is the four texts’ handling of place and setting, which become especially prominent in The Watsons and Sanditon. The Watsons creates superbly the life of a small-town family at the edges of gentility, while Sanditon portrays a small seaside town being developed into a tourist resort—a new trend in Austen’s day. Moreover, the stories (other than Catharine) have aroused the interest of many later writers—including writers for theatre and screen—who are eager to complete or to amplify them. Developments on screen include Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship (which is actually based on Austen’s Lady Susan), and Andrew Davies’s recent continuation of Sanditon. Completions may develop the stories to some kind of dénouement. Perhaps more intriguingly, however, these texts induce some writers to question the very enterprise of concluding an unfinished text.


No reviews for this title.

Author Information

Joanne Wilkes is an Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and has published especially on nineteenth-century fiction, including Jane Austen.


Anthem Nineteenth-Century Series

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. “Catharine, or the Bower”; 2. Lady Susan; 3. The Watsons; 4. Sanditon; Conclusion.


No Podcasts for this title.

Latest Tweets

  • Published this month, Uncertainty Bands explores the philosophy of economic forecasting under uncertainty.… https://t.co/hoDsDd6opt

    - 15:30:09 on 29/06/2022
  • Recently published Trends in Comparative Law and Economics is a short introduction to comparative law and economics… https://t.co/9AYx1MeMQg

    - 15:30:09 on 29/06/2022
  • Transpacific Connections a June title is about cross-cultural work combining studies and including new research on… https://t.co/wOlSnA0r9s

    - 15:30:09 on 29/06/2022
  • The Theatre of Fake News published this month argues that theatre and drama help us to understand the concern about… https://t.co/XPit3u1MT9

    - 15:30:09 on 29/06/2022
  • Recently published Popular Radicalism and the Unemployed in Chicago during the Great Depression re-evaluates the co… https://t.co/nhzhoAvQOE

    - 15:30:09 on 29/06/2022
  • Published in June, Poetics of Race in Latin America talks about a critically and theoretically innovative analysis… https://t.co/O3bVqyMt9k

    - 15:30:09 on 29/06/2022
  • Extending Hinge Epistemology has been recently published. It explores new applications and directions of hinge epis… https://t.co/SdIiT2LrMg

    - 15:30:09 on 29/06/2022
  • Recently published: This book helps to provide a better understanding of what has caused things to go wrong cultura… https://t.co/CDcAbzk0nI

    - 15:30:09 on 29/06/2022
  • 'Start Me Up and Keep Me Growing: Management Learnings from the Rolling Stones' by Bertold Bär-Bouyssiere is finall… https://t.co/CNVRTj5DSJ

    - 15:30:09 on 16/06/2022
  • At @NorwayinUK last week Geir-Egil Løken, Svein Tore Bergestuen, Asbjørn Rachlew discussed their new Anthem publica… https://t.co/TnPH4u4wMD

    - 15:30:09 on 01/06/2022

Comodo SSL