Sir Walter Scott on Austen ~ March 14, 1826


Sir Walter Scott wrote in his journal on March 14, 1826:

I have amused myself occasionally very pleasantly during the last few days, by reading over Lady Morgan’s novel of _O’Donnel_,[221] which has some striking and beautiful passages of situation and description, and in the comic part is very rich and entertaining. I do not remember being so much pleased with it at first. There is a want of story, always fatal to a book the first reading–and it is well if it gets a chance of a second. Alas! poor novel! Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of _Pride and Prejudice_. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early![222]

Scott’s journal entry for September 18, 1827, has the following reference  to Austen: 

September 18.–Wrote five pages of the _Tales_. Walked from Huntly Burn, having gone in the carriage. Smoked my cigar with Lockhart after dinner, and then whiled away the evening over one of Miss Austen’s novels. There is a truth of painting in her writings which always delights me. They do not, it is true, get above the middle classes of society, but there she is inimitable.

And this is Austen’s famous comment on Scott:

Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. – It is not fair. – He has Fame & Profit enough as a Poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths. – I do not like him, & do not mean to like Waverley if I can help it – but fear I must…

[ Letter 108, 28 September 1814, to Anna Austen (Le Faye)]

Further reading on Scott:



  • Millgate, Jane.  “Persuasion and the Presence of Scott,”  Persuasions 15, 1993
  • Sabor, Peter.  “Finished up to Nature” :  Walter Scott’s Review of Emma, Persuasions 13, 1991
  • text of Scott’s review of Emma in the Quarterly Review (1816) at The Literary Encyclopedia

 [Portrait image from University of Michigan website]

On My Booklist ~ ‘Jane Austen & Marriage’

A new book alert:  Jane Austen & Marriage by Hazel Jones, to be published in July 2009, is now available for pre-order.


Jane Austen & Marriage

by Hazel Jones

Continuum Books, 2009

 “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” –Pride and Prejudice


The question of marriage lies at the center of Jane Austen’s novels. The issues bound up in the pursuit of love, happiness, money, and status were those of her day and informed the plots and morals of her work. In this fascinating book, Hazel Jones explores the ways in which these themes manifest themselves in Jane Austen’s life and fiction, against the backdrop of contemporary conduct manuals, letters, diaries, journals and newspapers. Drawing on original research, this entertaining and detailed study provides a charming and profound insight into the world of Jane Austen. 


Table Of Contents:





1: The Advantage of Choice

2: The Power of Refusal

3: An Acquaintance Formed in a Public Place

4: White Satin and Lace Veils

5: Where N Takes M, For Better, For Worse

6: Wedding Journeys

7: Scandal and Gossip

8: A Contract of Mutual Agreeableness

9: Domestic Happiness Overthrown

10: The Simple Regimen of Separate Rooms

11:The Years of Danger

12:  An Old Maid at Last





Review at Continuum Books:

Hazel Jones has written a masterful accounting of the crucial role played by marriage in Jane Austen’s novels and the world she and her characters lived in. Brilliantly researched and documented  — including information taken from the fascinating and sometimes troubling “conduct manuals” on the proper interaction between the sexes — Jane Austen and Marriage offers deep insights that inform not only one’s reading of Austen’s novels but of the treacherous social bedrock underlying the lives of women living in that time. And in so doing, Hazel Jones has presented the reader with another testament to the long, hard march of women throughout history. It is a book that reflects Jane Austen’s own penetrating gaze and insight into Regency society and no doubt will find a place in the library of even the most sophisticated “Janeite”.’  

[Alice Steinbach, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman.]

About the Author:


Hazel Jones taught English at Exeter University, specializing in Jane Austen. She tutored courses on the novelist for the thriving Summer Academy Programme, which attracted students from all over the world. She continues to organize Jane Austen residential courses for adults at various venues in the UK, focusing on her novels and her life and times.


Pre-order at Continuum Books [$29.95] or [$19.77]