'Jane Austen practising' Virginia WoolfThree notebooks of Jane Austen's
early writings survive. The pieces probably date from 1786 or 1787, around
the time that Jane, aged 11 or 12, and her older sister and collaborator
Cassandra left school. By this point Austen was already an indiscriminate
and precocious reader, devouring pulp fictionand classic literature alike;
what she read, she soon began to imitate and parody. Unlike many teenage
writings then and now, these are not secret or agonized confessions
entrusted to a private journal and for the writer's eyes alone. Rather,
they are stories to be shared and admired by a named audience of family and
friends. Devices and themes which appear subtly in Austen'slater fiction
run riot openly and exuberantly across the teenage page. Drunkenness,
brawling, sexual misdemeanour, theft, and even murder prevail. It is as if
Lydia Bennett is the narrator.

Jane Austen—Teenage Writings

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  • 9780198737452