JP Editing Experiences

Steve Orman, postgraduate student from Canterbury Christ Church University, UK, reports on his editing experience with the Juvenilia Press project

Working for the Juvenilia Press was utterly invaluable and immensely enjoyable from the moment that I received an email from my former MA supervisor, Dr Peter Merchant, revealing the details of an exciting opportunity that I was only too keen to accept. The core goals of the Juvenilia Press are vital in stimulating and introducing postgraduate students to the field of editing, and this innovation makes what could be perceived as a rather daunting task were one working alone, into an enjoyable peer centred project under the guidance of an expert in the field. The experience of being part of a project from the initial stages of research, moving through textual editing, annotating, and reading and assisting in explanatory notes and an Introduction, provides one with a whole host of key skills of great importance in the world of academia, such as proof-reading, drafting and redrafting, collaborative research, and informing others about your research.

As a young postgraduate student, I was fortunate enough to work with Dr Merchant on a critical edition of Sarah Fyge Egerton’s The Female Advocate (1686), and the opportunity to work with a distinguished scholar was both vital and invaluable in fostering and developing my desire to edit literary texts. My own involvement in the project consisted of providing assistance with the illustrations that accompany the text of the edition. The experience of sourcing illustrations, writing to various art galleries to enquire about purchasing costs and copyrights, and working with the Cover and Interior Designer for the edition reminded me just how important, wide-reaching, and complex, the collaborative elements of preparing a work for publication can be. Over the course of our investigations and enquiries into securing the rights for image reproduction, we exchanged emails with art museums in Basel, Minneapolis, Cambridge (UK), and the Granada Cathedral (Spain), making the research a truly international affair. I should also add that learning by email that you have successfully secured the rights to reproduce an Illustration in the planned edition is also richly rewarding!

I was also fortunate to aid Dr Merchant with the annotations for the edition. This in itself is a key aspect of editing; it not only ensures a rigorous critical reading of the literary text, but it also encourages the editor/s to position themselves as the reader: Does every classical allusion/God/Goddess require an annotation? Have I already referenced ‘Venus’ in an earlier part of the work? Assisting with the annotations is invaluable for appreciating and delving into a literary text in a much greater fashion than the classroom would typically permit, so as well as increasing your own close reading skills, this type of activity is crucial for future work as an editor.

All of the skills that I was able to develop and refine during my time spent as an assistant preparing the edition for Juvenilia Press have been incredibly useful as I ventured into the field of scholarly editing; on this next occasion a solo effort! I have been working on the neglected late-eighteenth century author Henry Summersett and my edition of his novel Leopold Warndorf (1800), the first ever critical edition of a Summersett novel, was published by Valancourt Books in October 2013. Three further critical editions of Summersett’s novels, prepared by myself with Introductions and explanatory notes, are scheduled to be released early next year by Valancourt Books. It might sound clichéd to write that without my experience of working with Dr Merchant and the Juvenilia Press my later work would not have been possible, but it is certainly true; editing would have appeared a lot more daunting and alien without the skills that I acquired and being part of the process from that first email to receiving the publication in print. I’m sure, that like many others, I owe the Juvenilia Press my thanks for allowing me to be part of such a special opportunity that stimulates, rewards, and provides the opportunity for further work in the field of editing.

Steve Orman
Associate Lecturer, Department of English & Language Studies,
Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, Kent, UK

The critical edition of Henry Summersett’s Leopold Warndorf (edited by Steve Orman) is available from (UK and USA) and from the publisher’s website, Valancourt Books. See links below:



Literary Juvenilia Conference
St. Mary’s College, Durham University, September 2013

Interlocutor: Emeritus Professor Peter Alexander (UNSW Australia).

Panel:Emeritus Professor Juliet McMaster (University of Alberta), Dr Peter Merchant (Canterbury Christ Church University), Pamela Nutt (Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney), Associate Professor Lesley Peterson (University of North Alabama), Dr David Owen (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Dr Sylvia Hunt (Laurentian University), and Scientia Professor Christine Alexander (UNSW Australia).

1)Juliet, as only begetter of the JP, what do you think has changed since the Press began in earnest?

There have been many changes, and all for the better, as the Press has matured and developed. Many have to do with down-to-earth prosaic matters like production.

As Christine Alexander told you in her paper “Survey of the birth, childhood and growth of a new genre,” we started in a very small way: in the classroom, with undergraduate students, producing modest little pamphlets. Once I invented the “Juvenilia Press” imprint, and got us a logo and some identity, we moved from the hand-to-mouth saddle-stitched pamphlets to perfect binding, with design done very haphazardly by me, with help from the printer. When Winston Pei, a student in the graduate course on Austen that I was teaching, and one of the editors of our Love and Freindship edition 1, took that and Christine’s Branwell’s Blackwood’s Magazine 2 to the Banff School of Fine Art to work on in his course in book design, we made a major step forwards, because he came back with the two designed volumes that established our “look” – the look that we still have. And as Christine has told you, we still have Winston, too.

Our standards of editing have also hugely improved. With our early volumes, which were fitted into undergraduate courses where the students had much else to do, our editing was minimal – indeed in some cases non-existent: as you’ve heard, initially we merely transcribed the editions of others, such as R. W. Chapman for Austen and Christine Alexander for Brontë. The text was merely a vehicle for exercises in annotation and writing an introduction. But increasingly we sophisticated our practices, for preference using manuscript where that is available, so that the students face tense decisions on how to render hand-writing into print, and hotly debate issues such as whether to change underlining into italics, ampersand into “and”, and how much to intervene in correcting punctuation, spelling, and adding paragraphing. My choice was to allow each editing team to make its own decisions and stick to them. Christine has moved towards some more comprehensive rules for house style, although each editing team still makes its own decisions on the text it is editing.

The practice in illustration has also evolved. To begin with, when I was working with undergraduate students, I wanted to emphasise the “fun” aspect of producing our volumes, and for me that included the chance to produce illustrations of our own, if our talents ran that way. It was my project in turning Austen’s The Beautifull Cassandra 3, into a picture book for children, after all, that first gave me the idea for the Press: I had discovered that thinking very hard about a youthful piece of writing, as one has to do if one is illustrating and/or editing, was one way to track an author’s evolution; and therefore could be a valuable exercise for students.

Again, with the further professionalizing of the venture, we left behind the light-hearted and sometimes amateurish illustrations by team members in favour of greater historical authenticity. So – where they existed – the author’s own illustrations could be used, as with the Carroll and Doyle volumes 4. In the case of Rob Breton’s edition of Ruskin 5, he used both artwork by Ruskin himself and a selection of Turner’s illustrations to Samuel Rogers’ long poem Italy, which we know Ruskin knew as a boy, and greatly admired.

A further change that’s gratifying – and of which this conference is a major example – is the increase in works about juvenilia. Many of the publications, of course, have been by Christine and me and our students, as well as by those – like Gillian Boughton, our conference organizer – who contributed to The Child Writer volume 6. But then there are the reviews of the Press’s volumes and of our book on The Child Writer, and further publications and recognition that mark childhood writings as a legitimate and growing area for academic research. My own proposal for a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada from 1997 to 2000 not only received a grant, but was also graded among the top three applications of hundreds. A recent issue of PMLA has a long and detailed article by Laurie Langbauer called “Prolepsis and Tradition in Juvenile Writing: Henry Kirke White and Robert Southey,” where our work is cited in detail and at length7.

Let me add a couple of notes to Christine’s important paper. As a promising area for further study she mentions “the mixed attitudes of writers themselves to their early works”. I was rather proud of an idea I conceived of getting four living Canadian authors both to contribute some early work of their own to a small anthology 8, and to write some commentary on it, now that they were established authors. My scheme back-fired on me, since several of them were damagingly disparaging of these early forays in creativity, proving their own most hostile reviewers!

There is also attractive territory in the matter of gender and juvenilia. Like Austen’s Henry Tilney, I believe that “in every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty evenly divided between the sexes.9” Girls’ and boys’ juvenilia, I believe, will confirm this. But I have a sneaking suspicion that girls, if not better or more prolific writers than boys, may well be better preservers of their juvenilia than boys. The preponderance of girl authors among the Press’s volumes suggests as much. Jane Austen made fair copies of her many early writings in those collections that have come down to us as Volumes the First , Second, and Third. Charlotte Brontë kept more of her early works than Branwell. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was both prolific and custodial in her early work. My sample is too limited, of course, to be convincing. Trollope, like Dickens, burned a stack of his youthful works. But then, I must admit, so did Frances Burney. But it’s an issue I’d like to see explored.

In Christine’s hands the Press has prospered, and she has further professionalized its operations in admirable ways. Besides working out a “house style,” she has developed full instructions on how to submit a proposal for a volume, and on the right format for our publications. She has found editors from different communities, including schools, and she has been successful in getting principal editors to find partial funding for their volumes, and to participate in sales and distribution. With advancing technology, colour printing has come within the Press’s budget, and that has given a new glamour to our volumes. And where I used to have a standard print-run of 400, she has moved to print-on-demand, which saves storage for the volumes that might languish in cupboards, and allows for ready re-printing when called for; highly efficient.

As I included Canadian authors, she has included Australian ones; and the range of the Press’s volumes has greatly increased, both in geographical distribution and in period. The Female Advocate of 1686 10 is our earliest volume to date.

If I oversaw the “birth and childhood” of the Juvenilia Press, Christine has brought it to a rich maturity; and in the process of our work with the Press, we can claim to have nurtured an exciting new area of serious literary study.
—Emeritus Professor Juliet McMaster (University of Alberta)


1 Jane Austen, Love and Freindship , ed. Juliet McMaster and others (Edmonton: Juvenilia Press, 1995).
2 Branwell Brontë, Branwell’s Blackwood’s Magazine , ed. Christine Alexander and others (Edmonton: Juvenilia Press, 1995).
3 Jane Austen, The Beautifull Cassandra , edited and illustrated by Juliet McMaster (Victoria: Sono Nis Press, 1993).
4 Lewis Carroll, The Rectory Magazine, ed. Valerie Sanders and Elizabeth O’Reilly (Sydney: Juvenilia Press, 2008); Richard Doyle, Dick Doyle’s Diary, ed. Juliet McMaster and others, 3 vols (Sydney: Juvenilia Press, 2006, 2008, 2009).
5 John Ruskin, From Seven to Seventeen, ed. Rob Breton and others (Sydney: Juvenilia Press, 2012).
6 Gillian E. Boughton, “Dr. Arnold’s granddaughter: Mary Augusta Ward,” in The Child Writer from Austen to Woolf , ed. Christine Alexander and Juliet McMaster (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 237-253.
7 PMLA 128:4 (October 2013), 888-906.
8 See Greg Hollingshead, Carol Shields, Aritha van Herk, Rudy Wiebe, Early Voices , ed. T. L.Walters, James King and others (Edmonton: Juvenilia Press, 2001).
9 Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, chapter 4.
10 Sarah Fyge Egerton, The Female Advocate, ed. Peter Merchant with Steven Orman (Sydney: Juvenilia Press, 2010).


2)As mentor editors for JP volumes, several of you will have edited books other than JP editions. What in your experience was the difference?

Being part of a team and able to discuss decisions all along the way is not something I got to do editing my book for a major university press, and is something I very much appreciate in working on JP volumes. From decisions about whether or not to regularize spelling, to decisions about what to annotate, to thoughtful responses to outlines and drafts of footnotes and introductions, working on a JP volume provides ample opportunity to discuss, learn, test-drive. The acquisitions editor I worked with was very helpful, as was the copy editor the Press provided at the end, but it’s still a much more lonely process.
—Dr Peter Merchant (Canterbury Christ Church University)

The mentoring itself makes a big difference, bringing as many benefits to the “main” editor as it brings—one hopes—to his or her “assistant” editor/s. What such collaboration supplies is an ideal reader, or pool of several ideal readers, whose sense of when a note is necessary and what it should contain will very helpfully supplement your own. If you are working from a manuscript source, the extra pair/s of eyes can of course be particularly handy with any indecipherable portions.
—Associate Professor Lesley Peterson (University of North Alabama)

3) What was the most difficult aspect of the process of editing a JP volume?

As always when you are contributing to a distinctive and established imprint, there may at times be a tricky balance to maintain between what best suits the series and what best serves the text. The expectations of those readers who have enjoyed ten or twenty other JP volumes before yours, and who turned to it for that very reason, will be different from the needs of those—perhaps previously quite unfamiliar with the JP—who are picking it up because it happens to be the only available scholarly edition of a rare text which interests them.
—Dr Peter Merchant (Canterbury Christ Church University)

In my case, there are certain challenges that are obviously a perennial feature of teaching English literature in a non-Anglophone culture (particularly, of course, the instrumental difficulty of language itself). But in fact the most complex issues are probably those that any other teacher would have to face, namely, that editing a volume involves taking students to a higher level of textual understanding; it requires them to develop considerable sensitivity towards cultural and linguistic issues; and it obliges them to approach their work in a manner that, if not necessarily more intense than their approach as undergraduates, is rather more in keeping with the expectations and demands of “real-world” professional contexts.
—Dr David Owen (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

I have done two volumes for the Juvenilia Press with third year undergraduates. The most difficult aspect with this group is maintaining the expected standard of research; although they have all written research papers for their courses, the students are not usually prepared for the research required for a project of this depth. Our university library is quite limited so I often take the students to other institutions like the University of Toronto or the University of Guelph. For students considering graduate programs, this exposure to a higher level of research is good preparation for what graduate school will hold for them. However, I find that they often resort to inferior sources (Wikipedia) or lack ingenuity in finding answers.
—Dr Sylvia Hunt (Laurentian University)

Working with Year 11 students in New South Wales requires working within a framework that is dominated by a Higher School Certificate curriculum framework. Editing a volume, although it may run parallel to the curriculum at this point, is not part of an assessment program and at times may even compete against it for students’ time. Some students found this difficult, although those who became increasingly committed to the volume were able to work around such apparent clashes. Teaching the class from which these students came allowed for certain accommodations to be made. When students came from another class, this was less easily achieved.

Duty of Care responsibilities in relation to High School Students is a significant factor. Recognizing student stress in relation to the assessment program, for example, was a priority, as was recognition of other health factors. In no way were these a result of the JP activities, but for some students such factors had occasional impact on their participation.

Overall, the voluntary nature of student participation had to be considered.
—Pamela Nutt (Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney)

4)What was the most rewarding aspect of the process of editing a JP volume?

Important here are: a very welcome flexibility as to the word limits for your prefatory material and explanatory notes, if (as in my case) quite an elaborate apparatus is called for; invaluable, immensely generous and endlessly patient feedback as you draft from the present and former general editors; the extremely pleasing appearance of the end product. My own volume was praised as much for being “very handsome” as for being “richly annotated.” [Sarah Fyge Egerton (2012), in the Ashgate Early Modern Englishwoman series, selected and introduced by Robert C. Evans with MeKoi Scott, page xii].
—Dr Peter Merchant (Canterbury Christ Church University)

For me, what is most rewarding is, in effect, the consequences of all the above: to see how students develop a far deeper relationship with the work in question and to observe just how they themselves develop academically and professionally, as well as producing what is—one hopes—a very solid piece of academic writing and a useful contribution to their field.
—Dr David Owen (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

For me as a graduate student, the most rewarding aspects were three: knowing that I was helping to bring something to the public that had not been in print for hundreds of years; learning how to be an editor; working with a team of smart, knowledgeable, committed, creative people from whom I was constantly learning and whose company and academic partnership I greatly valued.
—Associate Professor Lesley Peterson (University of North Alabama)

The students who learn from the process; who engage in the selection and editing choices of the text; who learn good and creative research techniques. Some of the students who have participated in the projects have told me that the experience proved invaluable when they started graduate school.
—Dr Sylvia Hunt (Laurentian University)

5)Lesley, you have edited JP volumes with both university students and students from secondary school. What were the differences in your experience?

The big difference for me was that high school students have not chosen a major. They are not, typically, committed to literature as a career; they do not see themselves as apprentice literary scholars. The students I worked with were very bright and capable, but their energies were pulled in a hundred different directions. I did not find their lack of experience or knowledge to be a huge problem, because it was our job (Juliet McMaster’s, senior editor’s, and mine) to assign tasks that were appropriate for them.
—Associate Professor Lesley Peterson (University of North Alabama)

Do you think that working with school students on the JP project is feasible or too much effort/ unrealistic given their lack of experience in textual transmission?

The major involvement for most of my students was in performing in a production of one of the plays we were editing. The school I was teaching at had a strong drama program, so this involvement was very feasible. However, for an edition without that sort of creative project attached to it, I’m not sure.
—Associate Professor Lesley Peterson (University of North Alabama)

6) Pam, can you tell us briefly about working with senior secondary school students? What do you think they gain from the processes?

The most liberating aspect for the students was their realisation that they were expected to work outside a defined syllabus framework. Being able to set their own goals and parameters led them to appreciate the nature of both individual and group research. They came quickly to recognise that learning was not compartmentalised, and that their education in areas such as Art, Music and History, for example, played a significant part in their literary research and developing skills in academic editing.

PLC Sydney gave the students and staff strong support in this endeavour and the students responded enthusiastically to the opportunity offered. They were a group recognised as gifted and talented students and this project led them to extend their thinking, planning and writing in a most appropriate manner. As the program developed, students came to understand the editing of their own work as a valuable and positive experience. This will have prepared them well for the tertiary courses they commenced beyond high school.

At the book launch, their excitement was not only to do with the fact that they had a volume to which they had contributed in their hands. They also clearly recognised the process that had led to this and had a strong understanding of the nature of the work they had undertaken. A highly creative and energetic group of students, they had applied these qualities in an academic exercise that had stretched and rewarded them.
—Pamela Nutt (Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney)

Response to a question from the floor:

7) The discussion at this point had focused on how students might be recruited for such projects.

In my view, from a postgraduate student’s position, the opportunity to work on the editing of a JP volume is exceptional. Students form part of an ambit that is increasingly competitive; for instance, there are now numerous postgraduate conferences and journals, a very welcome development of course, but one that shores up the “publish or die” culture that characterises the academic world at large. So the chance to form part of such an academically solvent undertaking, one that will give students a noteworthy publication, is a spectacularly positive aspect to these projects. My feeling is that there is a great opportunity here to explore how a JP volume might be formally part of an MA unit on editing. As such, it might be offered as a module within Eighteenth Century Studies (for example), within author-specific work, within genre-based approaches, etc. Clearly, there are pressing issues of timing here (an academic calendar does not always happily coincide with that of an editing project), but there are always ways and means…
—Dr David Owen (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)



Juliet McMaster, University of Alberta

Editing is usually considered a solitary occupation, involving a single scholar who is in communion with an author, probably long dead, whose ghostly presence informs the text being edited. But editing for the Juvenilia Press isn’t like that. Because it started as a classroom exercise, when I founded the Juvenilia Press back in 1994, I built into its mandate that – besides being devoted to producing scholarly editions of works by young authors – it should always involve students in the editing process. It is a pedagogic enterprise, as well as a scholarly one.

As a result, our editing is a consultative process, usually among a bunch of co-editors, all of whom have the chance to have their voices heard. And in what follows, you too will hear some of their voices. The students learn a great deal, about scholarly processes that most of them have never thought about. Even graduate students in English have tended to assume that the canonical texts they engage – say, Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre – come to them God-given, and they accept them unquestioningly. When they are editing themselves, they realize that the texts in their hands are the end product of multiple choices and adjustments.

As the principal editor in these team projects, I learn a lot too. I learn that there is no single “right” way to edit, but that different texts and different readerships call for different principles. But principles there must be, worked out, recorded, and adhered to, so that we can earn the trust of our readers.

Editing juvenilia, especially, involves extra choices. Our young authors are inexperienced, and they make errors in spelling and punctuation and sometimes grammar. Sometimes they disdain paragraphing, though the modern reader expects a text logically sequenced and divided, with some “air” in the page where paragraph breaks happen. How much are we to “correct” our author, and “modernize” her text? In team-editing early works by Austen and Brontë, I have put these questions to my fellow editors, and each team works out its own principles, and enshrines them in a “Note on the Text.” But before agreement is reached, some teams have almost come to fisticuffs! Passions can run high on such issues as changing or preserving capitalization, adding or not adding apostrophes.

In what follows, I will discuss the different aspects of our exiting tasks one by one: textual editing, producing an introduction, and annotation, for the two editions before us today, Jane Austen’s Catharine or the Bower, written in 1792 when she was sixteen, and Brontë’s Albion and Marina, written in 1830 when she was fourteen.

First, then, textual editing. Where possible, in the Juvenilia Press we prefer to work from manuscript, so that the students can experience the particular problem of turning hand-written text to print: and for both these works, fortunately, the manuscripts were extant, though we had to work with photo reproductions rather than with the precious hand-written originals.

Jane Austen’s Catharine is the second of only two works in Volume the Third, now in the British Library, and the last of that collection of early works in those three manuscript notebooks in which she made the fair copies of her youthful writings. The handwriting presents few difficulties in deciphering. But yes, there are some spelling errors – that familiar reversal of “i” and “e” in “believe” and “friendship,” for instance – and we preserved them, by way of reminding the reader that this is a young and inexperienced author. Also, “We have retained the ampersand symbol,” write Jan Schroeder, who writes the “Note on the Text” for Catharine, “to reflect the freedom of hand-writing” (Schroeder, xv). And thereby hangs a tale. In a previous Juvenilia Press edition, of Austen’s Love and Freindship, the editorial team had locked horns over the preservation of that little typographical symbol for “and.” On that team the textual editor Chris Wiebe had explored the practice of previous editors of Austen’s juvenilia, such as Chapman and Doody and Murray, and detected them in inconsistency: sometimes retaining the ampersand, and sometimes silently replacing it with “and”. He wrote in impassioned prose:

Call me brazen, but I am for all or nothing – either “correct” everything or transcribe it as it stands – it is the shilly-shallying negotiations that seem unconscionable, indeed editorially negligent. I believe we should make a stand and faithfully transcribe (including re-instating the “&” symbol)…. I find myself surprisingly passionate! (Letter of 16 May 1995)

So make a stand we did, and faithfully preserved the ampersand wherever Austen used it.

Chris Wiebe married Jan Schroeder, who wrote the “Note on the Text” for Catharine. And clearly among the things that brought them together was their shared principle on ampersand!

A textual challenge that we encountered in editing Catharine was that the final paragraphs come in a different hand. This was a challenge indeed, and we wished we were in a position to solve the mystery of who wrote this addition to Austen’s manuscript. Could she have injured her hand, and called in an amanuensis? Who else would dare to tinker with a work by Jane Austen, even a juvenile one? As it was, we signaled the change by using a different type face for the addition, and explaining why.

But Peter Sabor, in his Juvenilia Press edition of Evelyn – which comes in the same Volume the Third as Catharine – solved the mystery later. He has had the benefit of being able to examine the manuscript itself, rather than the photocopy of it such as we had in our hands. And his intimate knowledge of the manuscripts also served him in good stead when he edited the Juvenilia volume for the Cambridge Edition of Jane Austen. He was able to demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that is was Jane Austen’s nephew and biographer, James Edward Austen-Leigh, who provided additions to both Evelyn and Catharine. Considering that James Edward had twice tried, and failed, to complete two of his aunt’s early works, it was ungenerous of him to call them “slight and flimsy,” and “rightly” withheld from publication (Austen-Leigh, 42, 46).

Editing Charlotte Brontë’s relatively early story in the Glass Town sagas, Albion and Marina, presented a tougher problem, because of the notoriously tiny hand in which she wrote. I had previously team-edited My Angria and the Angrians of 1834. For this there is no manuscript extant, so we followed Christine Alexander’s excellent text in An Edition of the Early Writings of Charlotte Brontë. But the original mansuscript of Albion and Marina survives, in Wellesley College Library. The Librarian was willing to lend us – not the precious tiny original itself – but sharp photographic enlargements of the fifteen pages plus title page. And we welcomed the chance to try our hands – and eyes! – on that minuscule text.

A photocopy of one of the enlargements shows that Charlotte’s text (written, claims her narrator, in just four hours) comes with no paragraph divisions, very little capitalization, and virtually no punctuation. It is also replete with spelling errors, which we decided to preserve.

"Paragraphs: [she wrote to me] I feel strongly about this issue…. Why do we have to follow Alexander’s paragraphing blindly? This is too easy a route to take. Do we not want to add a distinctive edition to the marketplace? (e-mail to me of 21 May 1999).

I was ready to listen. And the principle that Jean came up with was “Follow the capitals.” Though young Charlotte mostly disdained capitals as she disdained punctuation, every so often she does start a sentence with a cap. Believing that this was where she had paused, taken a breath, and then moved on, we followed that lead. A cap starts a new paragraph. There was some useful leeway here, too, for a number of sentences start with the first person, “I,” which she does capitalize. And lo! it worked! As it turned out, our paragraphing was often the same as Alexander’s. (But it was ours!)

We could not hope to improve on Alexander’s readings of this challenging text. She was the expert, and she had had travelled the world, examining originals – whereas we had only photographic enlargements of a single work to turn to. But we did come up with one notable new reading of our own. Hearing of Glass Town and its marvelous buildings, the wondering populace of England imagine them as sacred “temples of their Gods … their halls of Astarte and Semelt.” Such is Alexander’s transcription, and our too, until we came to annotate that curious figure “Semelt.” We had heard of Semele, but not Semelt, despite this seemingly indisputable reading. But close examination convinced us that Brontë had actually written “Astatè and Semelë” – with an accent grave over the last letter of “Astartè” and an umlaut, or double dot, on the last “e” of “Semelë.” What looked like a crossed “t” to spell “Semelt” was actually the two dots of an umlaut, to signal that the final “e” of “Semelë” should be pronounced. It was a symbol very familiar to the Brontës, since it occurs in their own name. And Semelë, the nymph mother of Dionysus, was a lot easier to annotate than that mysterious “Semelt”! “Wow!!!” wrote Jean the textual editor. “It is this kind of poring over the manuscript and finding things never before seen that makes this project worth being involved in.” (e-mail of 24 June, 1999). Who would have thought that the discovery of two little dots should cause such excitement!

To proceed from textual editing to another task in the production of our Juvenilia Press volumes: writing an Introduction. This calls for critical ability and historical knowledge; and though as the senior editor I sometimes write the Introduction myself, I’m glad to say that for both these volumes there were students very willing and able to do a good job.

An introduction needs among other things to set the work in its context – both the literary context and the historical-biographical context.

Both these young authors may be said to be – at least as juvenile authors go – “experienced.” In the dedication to Catharine Jane Austen boasted that the previous volumes that she had also dedicated to her sister, “The Beautifull Cassandra, and the History of England … through your generous support, have obtained a place in every Library in the Kingdom, and run through threescore editions” (Catharine 1). She was joking, of course: but Catharine, or the Bower does stand as the last in a respectable series of works, even if unpublished works, including Love and Freindship and Jack and Alice. As for Charlotte, she could claim in the Preface to The Professor the “the pen which -- wrote it had been previously worn a good deal in a practice of some years” (quoted by Karen Clark, viii) – and Albion and Marina comes early in her huge and on-going Glass Town sagas. “Albion” (or “England”) is the pseudonym for Arthur Wellesley, who will progress from his relative youth and innocence in this early love story to becoming the rampaging Byronic hero, the Duke of Zamorna, leader of men and breaker of women’s hearts. Karen Clark’s Introduction explains and explores the relation of this early tale to the larger Glass Town narratives.

So the Introductions place these works in the larger oeuvre of these young authors. Also, because they are young authors and these works are juvenilia, it is relevant to consider to what extent these are apprentice works, trial runs for great canonical works to come. Jeffrey Herrle makes the interesting point that Catharine’s Bower “becomes a sexualized place, where girlhood and womanhood converge” (1x). And he also explores the relation of this unfinished piece to Emma, and compares its principal male character, Edward Stanley, to Frank Churchill. Cindy Chopoidalo writes the second half of the introduction to Albion and Marina, demonstrating that in many ways it may be read as a trial run for Jane Eyre. Albion between Marina and Lady Zelzia (another name for the Zenobia of the Glass Town sagss) is like Rochester between Jane and Blanche Ingram. And that memorable call from afar – Rocherster’s “Jane, Jane, Jane!” – is anticipated in Marina’s ghostly pronouncement “Do not forget me” (A&M 19), which Albion hears a continent away, and which brings him racing to her side. Such connections form a recurring part of introductions to juvenilia.

Annotation, one more editorial task, lends itself to team work. We identify the maters that we believe need explaining to today’s reader, and deal them out among editorial team members: literary references for one, historical for another, carriages and transport, dress and fashion, rank and class distinction, and so on’ so that each team member may to some extent specialize in what most interests him or her. And writing a note that is informative, relevant, and if possible entertaining as well as brief – that is an exercise that calls for judgement, ingenuity, and honed writing skills. Our editions come generously annotated – not to say indulgently!

Every text presents its own challenges as well as its own rewards. In the course of co-editing Albion and Marina I visited Stratfield Saye, the sumptuous country estate of the dukes of Wellington; and our illustrator incorporated images of that stately pile in her pictures. This gave me occasion to present a copy to the owner (hoping he might stock it in the estate’s shop!). And I actually received a personal letter of thanks from the current Duke of Wellington!

Catharine or the Bower is unfinished. And we decided to tempt our readers into speculating on how it would end: offering a number of alternatives as to what would happen to certain characters, and who would marry whom. We even provided blank pages at the end of our volume for readers to fill in themselves to answer the question, “What Next?” And I for one have decided how things will turn out. Maybe one day I’ll try my hand at writing a Catharine completion! One never knows just where editing can take one.

Every edition has a story behind it – indeed, many stories. And I hope I have managed to entertain you somewhat with the stories behind Catharine or the Bower and Albion and Marina!


1 Alexander, Christine, ed. An Edition of the Early Works of Chalortte Brontë. 2 vols. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987-1991.
2 Austen, Jane. Catharine or the Bower. Ed. Juliet McMaster and others. Editorial team: Joanna Denford, Jeffrey Herrle, Bonnie Herron, Leslie Robertson, Jan Schoreder, Pam Simpson, Cheyl Wold. With illustrations by Reka Serfozo. Edmonton: Juvenilia Press, 1996.
3 Evelyn. Ed. Peter Sabor and others. Edmonton: Juvenilia Press, 1999.
4 Juvenilia. Ed. Peter Sabor. The Cambridge Edition of Jane Austen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
5 Austen-Leigh, James Edward. A Memoir of Jane Austen by her nephew. London: Richard Bentley, 1872 (2nd edition).
6 Alexander, Christine, ed. An Edition of the Early Works of Chalortte Brontë. 2 vols. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987-1991.
7 Brontë, Charlotte. Albion and Marina, ed. Juliet McMaster and others. Editorial team: Cindy Chopoidalo, Karen Clark, Karen Doeksen, Robyn Fowler, Heather Meek, , Wendy Rabel, Jean Richardson, Jodie Sinnema. Edmonton: Juvenilia Press, 1999.
8 My Angria and the Angrians. Ed. Juliet McMaster, Leslie Robertson and others. Edmonton: Juvenilia Press, 1997.
9 Clark, Karen. “Itroduction” to Albion and Marina (cited above). vii-xvi.
10 McMaster, Juliet. “Editing and Canonicity: ‘Minor’ Works by ‘Major’ Authors.” English Studies in Canada 27: 1&2 (March-June 2001). 47-66.
11 Sabor, Peter. “Note on the Text” in Jane Austen’s Evelyn, ed. Peter Sabor and others (cited above). xvi-xix.
12 Schroeder, Jan. “Note on the Text” in Austen’s Catharine or the Bower (cited above). xv.


Back to top