As a former college undergraduate who majored in English literature, I was never too far removed from the world of Jane Austen. Hers are novels that are firmly situated in the literary canon, and rightfully so. Her writing is more than well-known for its ability to weave elegant moral thought with comically ironic plot turns that prove to be not only witty but profound as well.
So I was interested to see this article at BBC News regarding a three-year-long study that suggests that someone else was heavily involved in the editing process of Austen’s manuscripts, namely an editor who worked for her publisher, John Murray II. This is a pretty big revelation, and indeed one that could incite both discussion and derision. Some could argue that the claim diminishes Austen’s prowess, making her writing not the product of her own talent, but rather something from an editor’s red pen. In other ways, as the article suggests, it could stand as an indicator of Austen’s openness to trying new things with her writing.
Either way, it’s interesting to think that new discoveries can still be made two hundred years after a book is published.