Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be completed for publication, though she had previously made a start on Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. According to Cassandra Austen’s Memorandum, Susan (as it was first called) was written about the years 1798-1799. It was revised by Austen for the press in 1803, and sold in the same year for £10 to a London bookseller, Crosby & Co., who decided against publishing. The bookseller was content to sell it back to the novelist’s brother, Henry Austen, for the exact sum that he had paid for it at the beginning, not knowing that the writer was already the author of four popular novels. The novel was further revised before being brought out posthumously in late December 1817 (1818 given on the title-page), as the first two volumes of a four-volume set with Persuasion. Northanger Abbey follows seventeen year old Gothic novel aficionado Catherine Morland and family friends Mr. and Mrs. Allen as they visit Bath, England. Catherine is in Bath for the first time, and is excited to spend her time visiting newly-made friends, such as Isabella Thorpe, and going to balls. Catherine finds herself pursued by Isabella’s brother, the rather rough-mannered dandy John Thorpe, and by her real love interest, Henry Tilney. She also becomes friends with Eleanor Tilney, Henry’s younger sister. Henry captivates her with his view on novels and his knowledge of history and the world. General Tilney (Henry and Eleanor’s father) invites Catherine to
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