British Fiction, 18001829

HUNTER, Rachel. Lady Maclairn (1806)

Anecdotal Records

Letter from Jane Austen to Anna Austen Lefroy.
[?29 Oct-31 Oct 1812].
[Austen is writing a joking letter praising the author Rachel Hunter (or ‘Mrs Hunter, of Norwich’, as her name was given on the title pages of her works).] Miss Jane Austen’s tears have flowed over each sweet sketch in such a way as would do Mrs Hunter’s heart good to see; if Mrs Hunter could understand all Miss Jane Austen’s interest in the subject she would certainly have the kindness to publish at least 4 vols more about the Flint family, & especially would give many fresh particulars on that part of it which Mrs H. has hitherto handled too briefly; viz, the history of Mary Flint’s marriage with Howard.
Source: Le Faye, p. 195.
Notes: Date in square brackets is given as it appears in the printed source. According to Le Faye, this letter was twice copied out by Anna Lefroy’s daughter Fanny-Caroline Lefroy, who inserted an explanatory note on one of her copies that the letter ‘refers to a voluminous and most tiresome & prosy novel the Aunt & Niece had been reading and laughing over, together. It was in eight volumes and the tears of the heroine were for ever flowing’. (Le Faye, p. 408, n. 6). In actuality the epistolary novel Lady Maclairn is in four volumes. See also Deirdre Le Faye, ‘Jane Austen & Mrs Hunter’s Novel’, Notes & Queries, n.s. 32: 3 (Sept 1985), 335–36.

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