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The Novel

Enjoy the following correspondence regarding Emma. The lot includes letters to and from Austen herself, family members, the Prince Regent's personal librarian (James Stanier Clarke), and Austen's publisher (John Murray). They are pulled from James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir of Jane Austen, Chapter 7.

Letters Pertaining to the Printing and Dedication of Emma

The Reverend James Stanier Clarke served as the "go-between" in establishing Emma's dedication to the Prince Regent. In addition to his multiple roles as a courtier, Clarke is remembered as a friend to a number of other Georgian social elites, an historian, and a talented amateur painter. A small watercolor created by Clarke in 1815 - discovered ca. 1994 in a "Friendship Book" belonging to the artist - is widely believed to be a full-body portrait of Jane Austen.

For bits on publisher John Murray's correspondence with Emma reviewer Sir Walter Scott, read Joan Ray's Scott's "tenderest, noblest and best" in his Review of Emma. You can read Scott's full Emma review here.

  1. One - From her brother, Henry Austen.
  2. Two - To John Murray, re: publication.
  3. Three - Copy of letter to James Stanier Clarke, re: dedication of the novel to the Prince Regent.
  4. Four - From James Stanier Clarke re: dedication.
  5. five - To John Murray, on the delay in printing.
  6. Six - To Cassandra Austen, re: printing delays and other tidbits.
  7. Seven - To Cassandra Austen, re: unsuccessfully hotfooting the printers.
  8. Eight - To John Murray re: the dedication.
  9. Nine - To John Murray, re: avoiding blunders in designing the dedication.
  10. Ten - To James Stanier Clarke, re: the dedication of Emma and Clarke's suggestions for future works.
  11. Eleven - From James Stanier Clarke, re: same.
  12. Twelve - From the Countess of Morley, re: reading Emma.
  13. Thirteen - To the Countess of Morley, thanking her for her kind words.
  14. Fourteen - To Anna Lefroy; Austen sends with this note a copy of the novel.
  15. Fifteen - From James Stanier Clarke, re: the Prince Regents' thanks.
  16. Sixteen - To James Stanier Clarke, re: the dedication, and thanking him once again for his suggestions, yet firmly rejecting them.
  17. Seventeen - To John Murray, re: Emma's review.

From Henry Austen
20 or 21 October 1815

A Letter to Mr Murray which Henry dictated a few days after his Illness began, & just before the Severe Relapse which threw him into such Danger. -

Dear Sir

Severe Illness has confined me to my Bed ever since I received Yours of ye 15th - I cannot yet hold a pen, & employ an Amuensis. - The Politeness & Perspicuity of your Letter equally claim my earliest Exertion. - Your official opinion of the Merits of Emma, is very valuable & satisfactory. - Though I venture occasionally from your Critique, yet I assure you that the Quantum of your commendation rather exceeds than falls short of the Author's expectation & my own. - The Terms you offer are so very inferior to what we had expected, that I am apprehensive of having made some great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation. - On the subject of the expense & profit of publishing, you must be much better informed than I am; - but Documents in my possession appear to prove that the Sum offered by you for the Copyright of Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park & Emma, is not equal to the Money which my Sister has actually cleared by one very moderate Edition of Mansfield Park - (You Yourself expressed astonishment that so small an Edit: of such a work should have been sent into the World) & still a smaller one of Sense & Sensibility. - ...

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To John Murray
Friday 3 November 1815

23, Hans Place, Friday Nov: 3d


My Brother's severe Illness has prevented his replying to Yours of Oct: 15, on the subject of the MS of Emma now in your hands - and as he is, though recovering, still in a state which we are fearful of harassing by Business & I am at the same time desirous of coming to some decision on the affair in question, I must request the favour of you to call on my here, on any day after the present that may suit you best, at any hour in the Evening, or any in the Morning except from Eleven to One. - A short conversation may perhaps do more than much Writing.

My Brother begs his Compts & best Thanks for your polite attention in supplying him with a Copy of Waterloo [Walter Scott's The Field of Waterloo, 1815].

I am Sir
Your Ob. Hum: Servt
Jane Austen

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Wednesday 15 November 1815
Copy of my Letter to Mr Clarke, Nov: 15. 1815


I must take the liberty of asking You a question - Among the many flattering attentions which I recd from you at Carlton House, on Monday last, was the Information of my being at liberty to dedicate any future Work to HRH the P.R. without the necessity of any Solicitation on my part. Such at least, I beleived [hee!] to be your words; but as I am very anxious to be quite certain of what was intended, I intreat you to have the goodness to inform me how such a Permission is to be understood, & whether it is incumbent on my to shew my sense of the Honour, by inscribing the Work now in the Press, to H. R. H. - I shd be equally concerned to appear either presumptuous or Ungrateful. -

I am &c -
[As a copy, no sig.]

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From James Stanier Clarke
Thursday 16 November 1815
Carlton House Novr: 16th: 1815.

Dear Madam

It is certainly not incumbent on you to dedicate your work now in the Press to His Royal Highness: but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at any future period, I am happy to send you that permission which need not require any more trouble or solicitation on your Part.

Your late Works, Madam, and in particular Mansfield park reflect the highest honour on your Genius & your Principles; in every new work your mind seems to increase its energy and powers of discrimination. The Regent has read & admired all your publications.

Accept my sincere thanks for the pleasure your Volumes have given me: in the perusal of them I felt a great inclination to write to you & say so. And I also dear Madam wished to be allowed to ask you, to delineate in some future Work the Habits of Life and Character and enthusiasm of a Clergyman - who should pass his time between the metropolis & the Country - who should be something like Beatties Minstrel

Silent when glad, affectionate tho' shy
And now his look was most demurely sad
& now he laughed aloud yet none knew why -

Neither Goldsmith - nor La Fontaine in his Tableau de Famille - have in my mind quite delineated an English Clergyman, at least of the present day - Fond of, & entirely engaged in Literature - no man's Enemy but his own. Pray dear Madam think of these things.

Believe me at all times
With sincerity & respect
Your faithful & obliged Servant
J. S. Clarke

P.S. I am going for about three weeks to Mr Henry Streatfeilds [?], Childingstone Sevenoaks - but hope on my return to have the honour of seeing you again.

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To John Murray
Thursday 23 November 1815


My brother's note last Monday has been so fruitless, that I am afraid there can be little chance of my writing to any good effect; but yet I am so very much disappointed & vexed by the delays of the Printers [Roworth, printers of volumes I & II of Emma] that I cannot help begging to know whether there is no hope of their being quickened. - Instead of the Work being ready by the end of the present month, it will hardly, at the rate we now proceed, be finished by the end of the next, and as I expect to leave London early in Decr, it is of consequence that no more time should be lost. - Is it likely that the Printers will be influenced to greater Dispatch & Punctuality by knowing that the Work is to be dedicated, by Permission, to the Prince Regent? - If you can make that circumstance operate, I shall be very glad. - My brother returns Waterloo, with many thanks for the Loan of it. - We have heard much of [Walter] Scott's account of Paris [Paul's Letters to His Kinsfolk, 1815]; - if it be not incompatible with other arrangements, would you favor us with it - supposing you have any set already opened? - You may depend upon its' being in careful hands.

I remain, Sir,
Yr ob. HumServt
J. Austen

23 Hans Place
Thursday Nov: 23.
Mr Murray

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To Cassandra Austen
Friday 24 November 1815
Hans Place, Friday Nov: 24

My dearest Cassandra

I have the pleasure of sending you a much better account of my affairs, which I know will be a great delight to you. I wrote to Mr. Murray yesterday myself, & Henry wrote at the same time to Roworth. Before the notes were out of the House I received three sheets, & an apology from R. We sent the notes however, & I had a most civil one in reply from Mr M. He is so very polite indeed, that it is quite overcoming. - The Printers have been waiting for Paper - the blame is thrown upon the stationer - but he gives his word that I shall have no farther cause for dissatisfaction. - He has lent us Miss Williams and Scott, & says that any book of his wil always be at my service. - In short, I am soothed & complimented into tolerable comfort. -

. . .

- A Sheet [proof sheet, I imagine] come in this moment. 1st & 3d vol. are now at 144. - 2d at 48. - I am sure you will like Particulars. - We are not to have the trouble of returning the sheets to Mr Murray any longer, the Printer's boys bring and carry.

. . .

- Yours very affecly, J. Austen.

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To Cassandra Austen
Sunday 26 November 1815
Hans Place, Sunday Nov: 26.

My Dearest

. . . - I did mention to P.R- in my note to Mr Murray, it brought a fine compliment in return; whether it has done any other good I do not know, but Henry thought it worth trying. - The Printers continue to supply me very well, I am advanced in vol. 3. to my arra- root, upon which peculiar style of spelling, there is a modest qu:ry? in the Margin. - I will not forget Anna's [Lefroy?] arrow-root. - I hope you have told Martha [Lloyd] of my first resolution of letting nobody know that I might dedicate &c - for fear of being obliged to do it - & that she is thoroughly convinced of my being influenced now by nothing but the most mercenary motives. - I have paid nine shillings on her account to Miss Palmer; there was no more oweing. -

. . . - Thank you very much for the sight of dear Charles' Letter to yourself. - How pleasantly & how naturally he writes! and how perfect a picture of his Disposition and feelings, his style conveys! - Poor dear Fellow! - not a Present! - I have a great mind to send hima ll the twelve copies which were to have been dispersed amond my near Connections - beginning with the P.R. & ending with Countess Morley. -
Adeiu. - Yrs affecly

J. Austen

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To John Murray
Monday 11 December 1815
Hans Place, Dec: 11th

Dear Sir

As I find that Emma is advertized for publication as early as Saturday next, I think it best to lose no time in settling all that remains to be settled on the subject, & adopt this method of doing so, as involving the smallest tax on your time. -

In the first place, I beg you to understand that I leave the terms on which the Trade should be supplied with the work, entirely to your Judgment, entreating you to be guided in every such arrangement by your own experience of what is most likely to clear off the Edition rapidly. I shall be satisfied with whatever you feel to be best. -

The Title page must be, Emma, Dedicated by Permission to H. R. H. The Prince Regent. - And it is my particular wish that one Set should be completed & sent to H. R. H. two or three days before the Work is generally public - It should be sent under Cover to the Rev. J. S. Clarke, Librarian, Carleton House. - I shall subjoin a list of those persons, to whom I must trouble you to forward also a Set each, when the Work is out; - all unbound, with From the Authoress, in the first page. -

I return you, with very many Thanks, the Books you have so obligingly supplied me with. -I am very sensible to assure you of the attention you have paid to my Convenience & amusement. - I return also, Mansfield Park, as ready for a 2d Edit: I beleive [ ;o) ], as I can make it. -

I am in Hans Place till the 16th. - From that day, inclusive, my direction will be, Chawton, Alton, Hants.

I remain dear Sir,
Yr faithful HumServt,
J. Austen

I wish you would have the goodness to send a line by the Bearer, stating the day on which the set will be ready for the Prince Regent. -

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To John Murray
Monday 11 December 1815
Hans Place, December 11

Dear Sir

I am much obliged by yours, and very happy to feel everything arranged to our mutual satisfaction. As to my direction about the title page, it was arising from my ignorance only, and from my having never noticed the proper place for a dedication. I thank you for putting me right. Any deviation from what is usually done in such cases is the last right. Any deviation from what is usually done in such cases is the last thing I should wish for. I feel happy in having a friend to save me from the ill effect of my own blunder [the quintessential Emma word].

Your, dear Sir, &c,
J. Austen

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To James Stanier Clarke
Monday 11 December 1815
Dec: 11

Dear Sir

My Emma is now so near publication that I feel it right to assure You of my not having forgotten your kind recommendation of an early Copy for Cn H. - & that I have Mr Murray's promise of its being sent to HRH under cover to You, three days previous to the Work being really out. -

I must make use of this opportunity to thank you dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow on my other Novels - I am too vain to wish to convince you that you have praised them beyond their Merit. -

My greatest anxiety at present is that this 4th work shd not disgrace what was good in the others. But on this point I will do myself the justice to declare that whatever may be my wishes for its' [sic] success, I am very strongly haunted by the idea that to those Readers who have preferred P&P. it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those Readers who have preferred MP. very inferior in good Sense. Such as it is however, I hope you will do me the favour of accepting a Copy. Mr M. will have directions for sending one. I am quite honoured by your thinking me capable of drawing such a Clergyman as you gave the sketch of in your note of Nov: 16. But I assure you I am not. The comic part of the Character I might be equal to, but not the Good, the Enthusiastic, the Literary. Such as Man's Conversation must at times be on subjects of Science & Philosophy of which I know nothing - or at least be occasionally abundant in quotations & allusions which a Woman, who like me, knows only her Mother-toungue & has read very little in that, would be totally without the power of giving. - A Classical Education, or at any rate, a very extensive acquaintance with English Literature, Ancient & Modern, appears to me quite Indispensable for the person who wd do any justice to your Clergyman - And I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible Vanity, the most unlearned, & unformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress.

Beleive [hee!] me, dear Sir,
Your obligd & faith Hum. Servt.
J. A.

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From James Stanier Clarke
Thursday 21 December 1815?

Carlton House Thursday, 1815

My dear Madam,

The Letter you were so obliging as to do me the Honour of sending, was forwarded to me in Kent, where in a Village, Chiddingstone near Sevenoaks, I had been hiding myself from all bustle and turmoil - and getting Spirits for a Winter Campaign - and Strength to stand the sharp knives which many a Shylock is wetting to cut more than a Pound of Flesh from my heart, on the appearance of James the Second.

On Monday I go to Lord Egremonts at Petworth - where your Praises have long been sounded as they out to be. I shall then look in on the Party at the Pavilion for a couple of nights - and return to preach at Park Street Chapel Green St. on the Thanksgiving Day.

You were very good to send me Emma - which I have in no respect deserved. It is gone to the Prince Regent. I have read only a few Pages which I much admired - there is so much nature - and excellent description of Character in every thing you describe.

Pray continue to write, & make all your friends send Sketches to help you - and Memoires pour servir - as the French term it. Do let us have an English Clergyman after your fancy - much novelty may be introduced - she dear Madam what good would be done if Tythes were taken away entirely, and describe him buying his own mother - as I did - because the High Priest of the Parish in which she died - did not pay her remains the respect he ought to do. I have never recovered the Shock. Carry your Clergyman to Sea as the Friend of some distinguished Naval Character about a Court - you can then bring foreward like Le Sage many interesting Scenes of Character & Interest.

But forgive me, I cannot write to you without wishing to elicit your Genius; - & I fear I cannot dot hat, without trespassing on your Patience and Good Nature.

I have desired Mr. Murray to procure, if he can, two little Works I ventured to publish from being at Sea - Sermons which I wrote & preached on the Ocean - & the Edition which I published of Falconers Shipwreck.

Pray, dear Madam, remember, that besides My Cell at Carlton House, I have another which Dr Barne procured for me at No 37, Golden Square - where I often hide myself. There is a small Library there much at your Service - and if you can make the Cell render you any service as a sort of Half-way House, when you come to Town - I shall be most happy. There is a Maid Servant of mine always there.

I hope to have the honour of sending you James the 2d when it reaches a second Ed: - as some few Notes may possibly be then added.

Yours Dear Madam, very sincerely
J. S. Clarke.

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From the Countess of Morley
Wednesday 27 December 1815

27th Decr

Madam -

I have been most anxiously waiting for an introduction to Emma, & am infinitely obliged to you for your kind recollection of me, which will procure me the pleasure of her acquaintance some days sooner than I shd otherwise have had it - I am already become intimate in the Woodhouse family, & feel that they will not amuse & interest me less than the Bennetts [sic], Bertrams, Norriss [sic] & all their admirable predecessors - I can give them no higher praise -

I am
Yr much obliged
F. Morley -

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To the Countess of Morley
Sunday 31 December 1815

Chawton Dec: 31


Accept my thanks for the honour of your note & for your kind disposition in favour of Emma. In my present state of doubt as to her reception in the World, it is particularly gratifying to receive so early an assurance of your Ladyship's approbation. It encourages me to depend on the same share of general good opinion which Emma's Predecessors have experienced, & to beleive [sic - Austen always did have trouble with those "ie" rules!] that I have not yet--as almost every Writer of Fancy does sooner or later - overwritten myself.

I am Madam
Your Obliged & faithful Servt
J. Austen

[Note how Austen speaks of the book in terms of its heroine - it is a "she" rather than an "it," at least in this letter.]

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To Anna Lefroy
Late 1815 or early 1816

My dear Anna

As I wish very much to see your Jemima, I am sure you will like to see my Emma, & have therefore great pleasure in sending it for your perusal. Keep it as long as you chuse; it has been read by all here. -

[Jemima was Austen's first grand-niece whom, due to poor weather, she had been unable to visit following her birth in October 1815.]

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From James Stanier Clarke
Wednesday 27 March 1816
Pavilion - March 27th 1816.

Dear Miss Austen,

I have to return to you the Thanks of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent for the handsome Copy you sent him of your last excellent Novel - pray dear Madam soon write again and again. Lord St Helens and many of the Nobility who have been staying here, paid you the just tribute of their Praise.

The Prince Regent has just left us for London; and having been pleased to appoint me Chaplain and private English Secretary to the Prince of Cobourg, I remain here with His Serene Highness & a select Party until the Marriage. Perhaps when you again appear in print you may chuse to dedicate your Volumes to Prince Leopold: any Historical Romance illustrative of the History of the august house of Cobourg, would just now be very interesting.

Believe me at all times
Dear Miss Austen
Your obliged friend
J. S. Clarke

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To James Stanier Clarke
Monday 1 April 1816

My Dear Sir

I am honoured by the Prince's thanks, & very much obliged to yourself for the kind manner on which You mention the Work. I have also to acknowledge a former letter, forwarded to me from Hans Place. I assure You I felt very grateful for the friendly Tenor of it, & hope my silence will have been considered as it was truly meant, to proceed only from an unwillingness to tax your Time with idle Thanks. -

Under every interesting circumstance which your own Talents & literary Labours have placed you in, or the favour of the Regent bestowed, you have my best wishes. You recent appointments I hope are a step to something still better. In my opinion, The service of a Court can hardly be too well paid, for immense must be the sacrifice of Time & Feeling required by it.

You are very, very kind in your hints as to the sort of Composition which might recommend me at present, & I am fully sensible that an Historical Romance, founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg might be much more to the purpose of Profit or Popularity, than such pictures of domestic Life in Country Villages as I deal in - but I could no more write a Romance than an Epic Poem. - I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my Life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first Chapter. - No - I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way; And though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other. -

I remain my dear Sir,
Your very much obliged & very sincere friend
J. Austen
Chawton near Alton April Ist -
1816 -

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To John Murray
Monday 1 April 1816

Dear Sir

I return to you the Quarterly Review with many Thanks. The Authoress of Emma has no reason I think to complain of her treatment in it - except in the total omission of Mansfield Par. - I cannot but be sorry that so clever a Man as the Reviewer of Emma, should consider it as unworthy of being noticed. - You will be pleased to hear that I have received the Prince's Thanks for the handsome Copy I sent him of Emma. Whatever he may think of my share of the Work, Yours seems to have been quite right. -

In consequence of the late sad Event in Henrietta St - I must request that if you should at any time have anything to communicate by Letter, you will be so good as to write by the post, directing to me (Miss J. Austen) Chawton near Alton - and that for anything of a larger bulk, you will add to the same direction, by Collier's Southampton Coach. -

I remain, dear Sir,
Yours very faithfully
J. Austen

Chawton April 1.

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