Jane Austen works were the “product of her editor”
The works of Jane Austen may not have been written entirely by Austen herself, according to Professor Kathryn Sutherland of Oxford’s English Faculty.
After studying a collection of 1100 pages of Austen’s original, handwritten prose, Sutherland concluded that the “polished style we see in Emma and Persuasion is simply not there”.
Sutherland said: “In reading the manuscripts it quickly becomes clear that the delicate precision is missing. This suggests that somebody else was heavily involved in the editing process.”
Letters between Austen, her publisher, and editor William Gifford “acknowledge the untidiness of Austen’s style and how Gifford would correct it”, said Sutherland.
Despite the grammatical errors of the original manuscripts, Sutherland believes Austen’s talent is still visible in the prose.
“The manuscript evidence offers a different face for Jane Austen, but still show her to be an experimental and innovative writer with a great talent for dialogue and satire”, said Sutherland.