Debunking “A Thought From Jane Austen”?

I may do this quote-thing weekly, for as long I can find interesting quotes. I plan to do my longer post tomorrow. Anyway, here it is:

“You say the book is indecent. You say I am immodest. But Sir in the depiction of love, modesty is the fullness of truth; and decency frankness; and so I must also be frank with you, and ask that you remove my name from the title page in all future printings; ‘A lady’ will do well enough.”

–  common online quote attributed to Jane Austen 

Update:

Originally I had a remark about this quote that treated it as if Jane Austen had actually written this, but as commenters below pointed out, there is no evidence that Jane Austen actually wrote this. Therefore, this post will now be a post to inform readers to take the quote with extreme skepticism (as I notice my blog post comes up quite high in the search results when you search for this quote).  Considering I found it in at least one library book attributed to Jane Austen, I think a warning might be useful here.

If I continue with the quote-a-week format, I will do a future post on how people’s actual words can get reduced to pithy aphorisms over time, and how the online world likes to make quotes up if the person never actually said anything clever at all. Apologies to all and hope this will help clear up any confusion!

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9 Comments

Filed under Quotables

9 responses to “Debunking “A Thought From Jane Austen”?

  1. Don’t you just love it? Times they have changed. I love Jane Austen just the way she is. Thanks for sharing this Harmamae. I guess good literature is in the eye of the reader!

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  2. Eleanor B

    Okay…..The only place i find this quote is in cyber quotes that quote it. Something about it does not ring true to me. Especially since Austens first novel to be published was Sense and Sensibility and she chose to publish that as ‘A Lady’. Pride and Prejudice was published as ‘by the Author of Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘By a Lady’.

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    • Yes, I knew ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was published before, I just assumed they discussed again what to publish ‘Pride and Prejudice’ under. Thanks for pointing that out. The online claim is that this quote comes from a 1811 letter to Thomas Egerton… Anyone who has access to any such letters, please do look it up. If there is no such thing, you are probably right, and this quote is suspect.

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  3. I know Jane Austen and I can find her books written in Japanese.
    However I have never read them. 😥
    Anyway it’s a good quote. 🙂

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  4. Ingrid

    The ‘remove my name from the title page’ is suspect. Her name was never on the title page to be removed. You may want to fact check this.

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    • Thanks for pointing this out, along with Eleanor, above. The online claim is that this quote comes from a 1811 letter to Thomas Egerton… Anyone who has access to any such letters, please do look it up. If there is no such thing, you are probably right, and this quote is suspect.

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  5. Ingrid

    Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811 by ‘A Lady’. Pride and Prejudice was not published until 1813, also by ‘A Lady’. Egerton also advertised it as ‘by the author of Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austens existing letters were published by Deidre LeFaye and the only ones dated 1811 were a half dozen letters to her sister.

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