The “Northanger Canon”: Jane Austen’s Booklist

Most of us who read Jane Austen are always seeking new titles to read, and ways to answer the 200-year old question of “what to read when you have finished all of Jane Austen.”  Other than the almost mandatory requirement to RE-READ Austen whenever possible, it is a “truth universally acknowledged” that an Austen reader will be soon in want of another book!   I have seen many such lists and though always subjective to the list-maker, they are a great start.  But what about Austen’s own reading?  A number of articles have been written on this, as much is known from her letters, but as our JASNA-Vermont Chapter recently had a meeting and discussion on Northanger Abbey, and we know that NA was Austen’s tribute to the novel and reading, I would like to provide a list of books she actually cites throughout NA….it is an illuminating compilation and should keep us all busy for the next year at least!  [ please note that there is no particular order to this list…. and if I have left anything out, please let me know!]

The Northanger Canon [ i.e. the “Horrid” Novels as referenced by Isabella Thorpe in Chapter 6 of NA]; also see the article describing each book in more detail at The University of Virginia’s Gothic Books Collection.

  • THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO.  by Ann Ward Radcliffe.  London, 1794.
  • THE CASTLE OF WOLFENBACH.  by Mrs. Eliza Parsons. London, 1793.
  • CLERMONT: A TALE.  by Regina Maria Roche.  London, 1798.
  • THE MYSTERIOUS WARNING.  by Mrs. Eliza Parsons.  London, 1796.
  • THE NECROMANCER; OR THE TALE OF THE BLACK FOREST, FOUNDED ON FACTS.  Translated from the German of Lawrence Flammenberg by Peter Teuthold.  London, 1794.
  • THE MIDNIGHT BELL, A GERMAN STORY.  by Francis Lathom.  London, 1798.
  • THE ORPHAN OF THE RHINE: A ROMANCE.  by Mrs. Eleanor Sleath.  London, 1798.
  • THE ITALIAN.  by Ann Ward Radcliffe.  London, 1797.

Other titles cited in Northanger Abbey:                          

  1. Burney, Fanny.  CECELIA, OR MEMOIRS OF AN HEIRESS  (1782)
  2. ____________.   CAMILLA, OR A PICTURE OF YOUTH (1796)
  3. Edgeworth, Maria.  BELINDA  (1801)
  4. Fielding, Henry.  TOM JONES  (1749)
  5. Richardson, Samuel.  SIR CHARLES GRANDISON (1753-4)
  6. _________________.  #97 THE RAMBLER  (quoted)
  7. Lewis, Matthew Gregory. THE MONK  (1796)
  8. Johnson, Samuel.  JOHNSON’S DICTIONARY (1755)
  9. Blair, Hugh.  LECTURES OF RHETORIC  (1783)
  10. Hume, David.  HISTORY OF ENGLAND  (1754-62)
  11. Robertson, William.  HISTORY OF SCOTLAND  (1759)
  12. “The Mirror”, an essay by John Homespun, March 6, 1779.
  13. Cowper, William [noted in the Biographical Notice by Henry Austen as JA’s favorite poetic moralist]
  14. Gilpin, William. Three essays on the Picturesque: Beauty, Travel, Sketching Landscape (1792)
  15. Gay, John. FABLES: “The Hare and Many Friends” (1727)
  16. Pope, Alexander.  “Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady” (1717)
  17. Gray, Thomas.  [his ELEGY is misquoted]
  18. Shakespeare, William.  [misquoted OTHELLO, MEASURE FOR MEASURE, TWELFTH NIGHT ]
  19. Thompson… “The Seasons” [misquoting “The Spring” ]
  20. Milton, John.  [ mentioned ]
  21. Moss, Rev. Thomas.  “The Beggars Petition” from POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS  (1769)
  22. Prior, Matthew.  [there is an undocumented reference to Prior in the “Literary Allusions” listing noted below for NA; Prior’s HENRY AND EMMA (1709) is alluded to in Persuasion]
  24. Sterne, Laurence.  A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY

William Gilpin's "Picturesque" View of Tintern Abbey


1. “Literary Allusions in Jane Austen’s Writings” at The Republic of Pemberley (mostly compiled from Chapman’s indexes)

2. Ehrenpreis, Anne Henry.  “Introduction to Northanger Abbey“ [ Penguin, 1972 ].  An excellent introduction to the novel, with notes on all the books cited by Austen, with a nice discussion of the “horrid” novels as well as references to other works cited in the novel.

3.  Chapman, R.W.  Indexes to Northanger Abbey and Persuasion [ volume 5 of his edition ]

Some Reading Thoughts…

Not that we all don’t have a full bedside table, but here are a few random thoughts, so make room for more…and don’t forget to look at the list of 100 books posted here last week…  and I welcome any of your suggestions for a great read, so please comment….

  • Nella Last’s War:  see our own Janeite Kelly’s short blurb on this diary on her other blog, Two Teens in the Time of Austen.
  • Laurel Ann and Ellen Moody offer up book reviews on the 2008 Oxford edition of Pride & Prejudice  at Austenprose.  See also their previous review of the Oxford edition of Sense & Sensibility. 
  •  Ms. Place at Jane Austen’s World has a post on the Oxford re-issue of A Memoir of Jane Austen by her  nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. She also appends a link to the “Dummies” article on “Tracing Jane Austen’s Popularity.”
  • Cassandra and Jane, by  Jill Pitkeathley. Harper, 2008Following Jane Austen’s untimely death in 1817 at age 41, her “most beloved sister” destroyed most of their correspondence; in her first novel, House of Lords peer Pitkeathley attempts to fill in the gaps through the eyes of Cassandra, Jane’s closest confidante and sharpest critic. Cassandra tells of the Austen family’s precarious position on the lowest tier of Hampshire’s aristocracy, Jane’s early attempts at “scribbling” and the crushing romantic disappointments of the two. Throughout, Cassandra’s detailed look at her younger sister showcases not only Jane’s literary accomplishments and “the low spirits, the anger, even the bitterness in her,” but also her indefatigable romanticism. Cassandra’s voice is perfectly pitched, true to Austen’s England, and jam-packed with Austen trivia. Descriptions of known events in the sisters’ lives, however, tend toward the didactic, especially compared to Pitkeathley’s imaginative leaps regarding the sisters’ secrets; as such, the seams between actual and imagined history are entirely too visible. Ardent Austen devotees will be undeterred by the uneven narrative, but casual fans may want to pass.
  • “The Spanish Bride” by Georgette Heyer :  see a review on Jane Austen Today, posted by Miss Anne.
  • a Blog reviewing Sense & Sensibility
  • Five Austen-related audiobook reviews:
  • A review of another Darcy book (have we had enough?)…. “Seducing Mr. Darcy”    this one with a bodice-ripper cover.  Author Gwen Cready posts about her book on the Jane Austen Today blog. 
  • Austenblog’s review of “The Darcys Give a Ball” from March 2008, and another at Amazon with several customer reviews
  • Laurie Viera Rigler posts a Q&A by Booking Mama Blog on her book Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.  Ms. Rigler will also be on a live chat at Jane Austen’s World on August 12 at 7pm Pacific time and 10pm EST (and check out the site for a free book giveaway…)
  • Old Friend and New Fancies, by Sylvia Brinton (noted on both the Austen-tatious and Jane Austen Today blogs), is quite a delightful read.  In this current world of Austen sequels, this was the first to take on the continued life of Austen’s characters; originally written in 1913 and published by Hodder & Stoughton, London in 1914….it has now been republished by Sourcebooks.  But Brinton takes it all a step further, as ALL the couples in ALL the novels make an entrance in this magical confection… I enjoyed it very much (and had intended to write a review, but alas! there are so many out there! –  at A Lady’s DiversionsAustenblog, and numerous others found on a google search; it is also referred to in the Persuasions (vol 11, 1989) article by Kathleen Glancy “The Many Husbands of Georgiana Darcy“)
  •  a current list of Austen sequels for sale at Sourcebooks(a wonderful reading list if you are looking for somewhere to start on your sequels read (remember that the AGM in Chicago this year is on Austen’s Legacy….)
  • Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers, by J.H. Hubback (published in 1906) is now available as a free e-book at (Jane Austen, a Family Record, and the Memoir by James Edward Austen-Leigh are also available for download…)
  • A booklist perfect for summer reading from The Guardian.UK:  10 best romps and romances
  • Conviction: a sequel to P&P by Skylar Hamilton Burris (2006) has received some favorable reviews at (has anyone out there read this?….please comment!)

And finally, a review of another Emma, this one by Kaoru Mori, translated by Sheldon Drzka, and set in Victorian London (this is a 7 volume comic book, each available on Amazon for $9.99)