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Jane Austen's The History of England - Introduction

Image of the Jane Austen's The History of England cover
British Library Add. MS 59874
Copyright © The British Library Board

The History of England is an early work of Jane Austen. She completed the composition in November 1791 when she was just 15 years old.

Jane Austen's History is a lively parody which makes fun of the standard schoolroom books of the time, in particular Oliver Goldsmith's popular four-volume History of England from the Earliest Times to the Death of George II (1771). Declaring herself to be a 'partial, prejudiced and ignorant Historian' she cites works of fiction, such as Shakespeare's plays, as historial authority and includes references to her own family and friends. Jane's older sister Cassandra illustrated the text with imaginative portraits of the English monarchs.

Years later Jane made a 'collected edition' of her early works, copying them into three notebooks, which she called Volume the First, Volume the Second, and Volume the Third. Volume the Second, containing the History of England and several other compositions, was bought by The British Library in 1977. The white vellum binding is original.

The British Library Add. MS 59874.

 
     
   
 

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