[The following two letters concern Jane Austen’s manuscript for Susan, which eventually years later was edited, and then published as Northanger Abbey after the author’s death.]
5 April 1809 – from Jane Austen to Crosby & Co. (publisher)
In the Spring of the year 1803 a MS. Novel in 2 vol. entitled Susan was sold to you by a Gentleman of the name of Seymour, & the purchase money £10. recd at the same time. Six years have since passed, & this work of which I avow myself the Authoress, has never to the best of my knowledge, appeared in print, tho’ an early publication was stipulated for at the time of the Sale. I can only account for such an extraordinary circumstance by supposing that the MS by some carelessness to have been lost; & if that was the case, am willing to supply You with another Copy if you are disposed to avail yourselves of it, & will engage for no farther delay when it comes into your hands.– It will not be in my power from particular circumstances to command this Copy before the Month of August, but then, if you accept my proposal, you may depend on receiving it. Be so good as to send me a Line in answer, as soon as possible, as my stay in this place will not exceed a few days. Should no notice be taken of this Address, I shall feel myself at liberty to secure the publication of my work, by applying elsewhere. I am Gentlemen &c &c
Direct to Mrs Ashton Dennis
Post office, Southampton
[Messrs. Crosbie [sic] & Co.,
Stationers’ Hall Court
8 April 1809 – Reply from Richard Crosby to Jane Austen, aka Mrs Ashton Dennis
We have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 5th inst. It is true that at the time mentioned we purchased of Mr Seymour a MS. novel entitled Susan and paid him for it the sum of 10£ for which we have his stamped receipt as a full consideration, but there was not any time stipulated for its publication, neither are we bound to publish it, Should you or anyone else [sic] we shall take proceedings to stop the sale. The MS. shall be yours for the same as we paid for it.
For R. Crosby & Co
I am yours etc.
Ap 8 1809
Mrs Ashton Dennis