The Watsons Fragment

The Watsons is a fascinating fragment believed to have been abandoned by Austen in 1803. What makes the The Watsons so very interesting, aside from being a very enjoyable peice – the missing ending is plain enough for those familiar with Austen’s work, is the early  experimentation with plot points, character insights and style that Austen would later make entirely her own. It strikes one quite forcibly how familiar the characters. Here, in Emma Watson herself and her acquaintance and relatives,  are early versions of so many of Austen’s greatest profiles of understated elegance of mind and manners, of vulgarity and coarseness, of snobbery and coondescension. One particluar theme has echoes throughout Austen’s canon – the change from peace and gentility to oppression and poverty that is later explored through the experiences of the Dashwood sisters in Devonshire, Fanny Price in her soujourn in Portsmouth and Jane Fairfax’s transition from the Campbell’s household to her aunt’s in Highbury.

The Watson’s fragment can be read at Four Georges Archive.


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