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Jane Austen Needed a Good Editor

In 1818, Jane Austen‘s brother Henry Thomas Austen praised his sister, writing: “Everything came finished from her pen.” Since then, Austen has been well known for her highly-polished prose. However, new evidence has surfaced disputing Henry’s claim.

In an interview with NPR, Oxford University professor Kathryn Sutherland explained how she analyzed more than 1,000 handwritten Austen pages and found that they are littered with misspellings and grammar errors. Sutherland quoted Austen’s editor, William Gifford about a draft of Emma:  “It is very carelessly copied. Though the handwriting is excellently plain and there are many short omissions which must be inserted, I will readily correct the proof for you.”

Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility have been re-written by 21st Century editors, adding zombies and sea monsters into the classic stories. In August, Emma received the same treatment from Wayne Josephson with Emma and the Vampires.

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