Northanger Abbey is perhaps Miss Austen’s most satirical and humorous novel. Originally titled as Susan it is considered to be her earliest completed novel. The tone of the novel is closer to the sarcastic, cutting wit of Miss Austen’s Juvenilia than any of her other novels. It was eventually published after Miss Austen’s death, in a combined edition with Persuasion, and it was her brother Henry who prepared the manuscript for print and changed the title to Northanger Abbey.
Title page of the original 1818 edition
Fun Facts Regarding the Publication:
-Northanger Abbey, or Susan as it was originally titled, was wrote in 1798
-The first publication of the novel was 1817. 19 years after the first draft.
-The combined edition of Northanger Abbey & Persuasion sold 1, 409 copies within a year.
The Gothic Novel:
The Gothic novel is defined as a genre of fiction characterized by mystery and supernatural horror blended with romance. These novels often took place in an abbey or castle and often times the plot dealt with damsels in distress held captive by an evil tyrant or deep, dark family secrets. They offered the readers a pleasing sense of terror. Often you see element of parody and satire in these types of novels. When thinking of the Gothic novel, the first book that comes to my mind is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
Northanger Abbey was Jane Austen’s first and last Gothic novel. Throughout the book, we see the melodrama associated with this genre in form of the heroine, Catherine Morland. As an avid reader of the Gothic novel, Catherine starts to see those elements of mystery in her daily life. Northanger Abbey is a brilliant mocking of this genre.
The Gothic Novels mentioned in Northanger Abbey:
-The Monk by M G Lewis
-The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
-The Italian by Anne Radcliffe
A Look Inside:
Estate- Northanger Abbey
Location- Somerset, 30 miles from Bath
Income- Enough to provide a respectable inheritance for Fredrick Tilney, a large dowry for Eleanor and to buy and furnish a parsonage for Henry.
Fact-Although the Abbey becomes the focus of Catherine’s wild Gothic fantasies, the Abbey is described as thoroughly modern.
Settings of Northanger Abbey:
1-Fullerton, Wiltshire- The village where Catherine Morland is from.
2-Bath- The city Catherine goes to visit and where she meets Henry Tilney.*
3-Northanger Abbey, Gloucestershire-The home of the Tilney family.
4-Oxford-Where Catherine’s brother James goes to university.
5-Putne, London-Where the Thorpe family are from.
* The scenes from Bath- the Assembly Rooms, the Pump Rooms, and The Royal Crescent would have been experienced by Jane Austen herself in that exact location.
Meet the characters:
1. Catherine Morland-The Heroine of the novel and lover of Gothic novels.
2. Henry Tilney-The Hero of the novel. A handsome young clergymen.
3. Eleanor Tilney-Sister of Henry.
4. Isabella Thorpe-Catherine’s first friend in Bath.
5. John Thorpe-Isabella’s rude and arrogant brother.
6. Mr. & Mrs. Allen-Neighbors who take Catherine to Bath.
7. Captain Frederick Tilney-Henry & Eleanor’s elder brother.
8. James Morland-Catherine’s elder brother who believed to be moderately wealthy.
9. General Tilney-Father of Frederick, Henry, and Eleanor. Owner of Northanger Abbey.
10. Mrs. Morland-Catherine’s mother.
Northanger Abbey is my second favorite Austen novel and while I have gladly taken the leap and devoured book after book of Pride & Prejudice adaptations, I cannot seem to bring myself to read an adaptation of N.A. Why? I have no idea. Although I have been eyeing Henry Tilney’s Diary by Amanda Grange and seeing how I love Amanda Grange’s adaptations I believe that I will start my Northanger Abbey collection with her book!
Have you read an adaptation of Northanger Abbey? If so, what were your thoughts about it?
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Until We Meet Again,
Best Wishes & Happy Reading,