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Shop  >>  Books  >>  Fiction (General)

Austen,Jane/ Drabble,Margaret

Lady Susan

Austen Jane Drabble Margaret Lady Susan The Watsons ; Sanditon
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Biographical note:

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 at Steventon near Basingstoke, the seventh child of the rector of the parish. She lived with her family at Steventon until they moved to Bath when her father retired in 1801. After his death in 1805, she moved around with her mother; in 1809, they settled in Chawton, near Alton, Hampshire. Here she remained, except for a few visits to London, until in May 1817 she moved to Winchester to be near her doctor. There she died on July 18, 1817.

As a girl Jane Austen wrote stories, including burlesques of popular romances. Her works were only published after much revision, four novels being published in her lifetime. These are Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously in 1818 with a biographical notice by her brother, Henry Austen, the first formal announcement of her authorship. Persuasion was written in a race against failing health in 1815-16. She also left two earlier compositions, a short epistolary novel, Lady Susan, and an unfinished novel, The Watsons. At the time of her death, she was working on a new novel, Sanditon, a fragmentary draft of which survives.

Margaret Drabble is recipient of many prestigious awards for her writing, which includes works of nonfiction as well as numerous novels.


Margaret Drabble is recipient of many prestigious awards for her writing, which includes works of nonfiction as well as numerous novels.

Excerpt from book:

Letter 1

Lady Susan Vernon to Mr. Vernon

Langford, December

My dear brother,

I can no longer refuse myself the pleasure of profiting by your kind invitation when we last parted, of spending some weeks with you at Churchill, and therefore if quite convenient to you and Mrs. Vernon to receive me at present, I shall hope within a few days to be introduced to a sister whom I have so long desired to be acquainted with. My kind friends here are most affectionately urgent with me to prolong my stay, but their hospitable and cheerful dispositions lead them too much into society for my present situation and state of mind; and I impatiently look forward to the hour when I shall be admitted into your delightful retirement. I long to be made known to your dear little children, in whose hearts I shall be very eager to secure an interest. I shall soon have occasion for all my fortitude, as I am on the point of separation from my own daughter. The long illness of her dear father prevented my paying her that attention which duty and affection equally dictated, and I have but too much reason to fear that the governess to whose care I cosigned her, was unequal to the charge. I have therefore resolved on placing her at one of the best private schools in town, where I shall have an opportunity of leaving her myself, in my way to you. I am determined you see, not to be denied admittance at Churchill. It would indeed give me most painful sensations to know that it were not in your power to receive me.

Your most obliged and affectionate sister

Susan Vernon

The first winter assembly in the town of D. in Surrey was to be held on Tuesday October the thirteenth, and it was generally expected to be a very good one; a long list of country families was confidently run over as sure of attending, and sanguine hopes were entertained that the Osbornes themselves would be there.

The Edwards' invitation to the Watsons followed me of course. The Edwards were people of fortune who lived in the town and kept their coach; the Watsons inhabited a village about three miles distant, were poor and had no close carriage; and ever since there had been balls in the place, the former were accustomed to invite the latter to dress dine and sleep at their house, on every monthly return throughout the winter.

On the present occasion, as only two of Mr. Watson's children were at home, and one was always necessary as a companion to himself, for he was sickly and had lost his wife, one only could profit by the kindness of their friends; Miss Emma Watson who was very recently returned to her family from the care of an aunt who had brought her up, was to make her first public appearance in the neighborhood; and her eldest sister, whose delight in a ball was not lessened by ten years' enjoyment, had some merit in cheerfully undertaking to drive her and all her finery in the old chair to D. on the important morning.

As they splashed along the dirty lane Miss Watson thus instructed and cautioned her inexperienced sister.—

'I dare say it will be a very good ball and among so many officers, you will hardly want partners. You will find Mrs. Edwards' maid very willing to help you, and I would advise you to ask Mary Edwards' opinion if you are at all at a loss, for she has very good taste. —If Mr. Edwards does not lose his money at cards, you will stay as late as you can wish for; if he does he will hurry you home perhaps—but you are sure of some comfortable soup. —I hope you will be in good looks — I should not be surprised if you were to be thought one of the prettiest girls in the room, there is a great deal in novelty. Perhaps Tom Musgrave may take notice of you — but I would advice you by all means not to give him any encouragement. He generally pays attention to every new girl, but he is a great flirt and never means anything serious.'

'I think I have heard you speak of him before,' said Emma.

'Who is he?' 'A young man of very good fortune, quite independent, and remarkably agreeable, a universal favourite wherever he goes. Most of the girls hereabouts are in love with him, or have been. I believe I am the only one among them that have escaped with a whole heart, and yet I was the first he paid attention to, when he came into this country, six years ago; and very great attention indeed did he pay me. Some people say that he has never seemed to like any girl so well since, though he is always behaving in a particular way to one another.' —

'And how came heart to be the only cold one?' — said Emma smiling.

"There was a reason for that' —replied Miss Watson, changing colour. — 'I have not been very well used, Emma, among them, I hope you will have better luck.'

'Dear sister, I beg your pardon, if I have unthinkingly given you pain.'

'When first we knew Tom Musgrave,' continued Miss Watson without seeming to hear her, 'I was very much attached to a young man of the name of Purvis, a particular friend of Robert's, who used to be with us a great deal. Everybody thought it would have been a match.'

A sigh accompanied these words, which Emma respected in silence—but her sister after a short pause went on—'You will naturally ask why it did not take place, and why he is married to another woman, while I am still single.—But you must ask him—not me—you must ask Penelope. —Yes Emma, Penelope was at the bottom of it all. —She thinks everything fair for a husband; I trusted her, she set him against me, with a view of gaining him herself, and it ended in his discontinuing his visits and soon after marrying somebody else. —Penelope makes light of her conduct, but I think such treachery very bad. It has been the ruin of my happiness. I shall never love any man as I loved Purvis. I do not think tom Musgrave should be named with him in the same day.'

A gentleman and lady traveling from Tonbridge towards that part of the Sussex coast which lies between hastings and Eastbourne, being induced by business to quit the high road, and attempt a very rough lane, were overturned in toiling up its lo

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