Note on the Text

Choice of Copy-Text & Different Texts

The diplomatic display of Jane Austen’s autograph fair copy manuscript found in the Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts Digital Edition was consulted as the base manuscript of this critical edition of “Catharine, the Bower,” which strives to be faithful to Austen’s spelling, paragraphing, punctuation, pagination and line breaks. Erasures and revisions are indicated, and minor changes are annotated with footnotes. It appears that as little as possible has been altered, thus ensuring the reliability of the transcription as a primary source. This unfinished short story is found, along with “Evelyn,” inscribed in the author’s own hand, in Volume the Third of Austen’s juvenilia, which was originally a ready-made bound blank stationer’s notebook. It remained unpublished in her lifetime, until R. W. Chapman transcribed and formally edited the manuscripts in 1951, after having gained family permission to publish Volume the Third in 1949. R. W. Chapman later republished Volume the Third in 1954, in an edition that included all three volumes of Austen’s juvenile writing, titled Minor Works. This extensive volume was reprinted with revisions in 1963, and updated in 1988 as The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen, available in a hardcover six-volume set, which features nineteenth century illustrations and Chapman’s explanatory notes.

Changes Made To Text

In this critical edition, I have taken some liberties with the paragraph division and indentation, by arbitrarily dividing huge sections of text into smaller paragraphs for ease of reading and comprehension. I felt this was necessary because, “excluding the paragraphs prompted by opening or closing speech acts, “Catharine” has only five paragraph breaks” (Bree, Sabor & Todd 16). The divisions have been made where a pause seems natural or logical, and attempts to demonstrate how “Catharine” would appear in the context of a full-length novel versus its presentation as simply a print transcription of her autograph fair copy draft. After all, “Catharine” is approximately 16,500 words, the longest of her juvenilia stories. Its extant structure is similar enough to the set up of her full-length publications that it is feasible to think that if Austen had had the opportunity to complete the novel, she would have already been a sixth of the way there.

Austen’s use of the ampersand (“&”) has been expanded to “and,” and the structure of quotation marks used in dialogue regulated for consistency as much as possible. Some general punctuation has been normalized, with the insertion of periods after formal titles “Mr” and “Mrs,” but her use of dashes has been retained to guard the reminder of the text as an unpublished manuscript before her death. The dash lends the effect of a ‘work in progress’ to the manuscript, or may be seen as “a gesture towards the presentation of published texts” (Bree, Sabor & Todd 17). Either way, I do not wish the addition of punctuation to interrupt entirely the connection of the story with its manuscript origins. Austen’s capitalization of many nouns has been preserved as well, as they exemplify “an eighteenth century practice” of writing style and signify to the reader that it is writing from a different era altogether (Bree, Sabor & Todd 14).

Slight spelling errors have been corrected, such as Austen’s notorious reversal of the “ie” in “freind,” and the doubling of consonants in certain words, as in “Melancholly.” At one point in her revision, Austen attempted to “formalize the original “Kitty” to “Catharine”…[and] alter her surname from Peterson to Percival, though in both cases the corrections are made inconsistently” (Bree, Sabor & Todd 14). This inconsistency in the usage of names has been removed, and I have changed all instances of “Kitty” to “Catharine” and of “Mrs. Peterson” to “Mrs. Percival” to avoid confusion with the characters.

Despite the conformity to modern day grammar and spelling conventions, I have endeavoured to make changes that I felt would not interfere with the overall presentation of the text as an unfinished eighteenth century draft.


The text was produced in Microsoft Word and published in using Scribd. At 16,500+ words, “Catharine” is too long to simply post as a bulk of text in WordPress. Scribd is a more practical medium, as it allows the reader to scroll through an embedded box format that features page number look up and the ability to download, embed, or share the document. Additionally, uploading the document as a PDF onto a public domain such as Scribd gives users of Scribd free access to the text.

The annotations were produced separately and accompany the text below the Scribd embed, in order to allow for the insertion of multiple hyperlinks that direct the reader to more interesting and detailed entries, blogs(1) or texts.

(1) projects of my classmates: Digitizing Literature, Dorothy and William: An In-Depth Approach, Jane Austen’s The Three Sisters Digital Edition.

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