Something very shocking indeed has come out in London


Several Alert Janeites let us know–some in frantic terms–about a current spate of articles featuring Austen scholar Kathryn Sutherland, who is going around telling everyone that that Jane was barely literate and an editor rewrote all her books. Or, that’s what one might gather from some august news organs, with their sensational headlines and ledes.

The Daily Mail: How Jane Austen failed at spelling: Study shows author wrote in a ‘regional accent’ and used poor punctuation

The Telegraph: Jane Austen’s famous prose may not be hers after all

Reuters: Austen’s “polished prose” not so polished: academic

Even Auntie Beeb, who has made such hay from Herself over the years, sticks a shiv in her back, Brutus-like: Jane Austen’s style might not be hers, academic claims

All of the articles are quoting Prof. Sutherland, who is, not coincidentally, preparing to launch the Austen manuscripts online project and, one presumes, looking for some publicity. She opines that in her study of Austen’s manuscripts, it appears that Jane sometimes misspells words! And uses the wrong punctuation! And crosses things out and rewrites them! And that John Murray employed an editor to fix her errors!!!!

This is news? Seriously? Continue reading