The “Northanger Canon”: Jane Austen’s Booklist

Most of us who read Jane Austen are always seeking new titles to read, and ways to answer the 200-year old question of “what to read when you have finished all of Jane Austen.”  Other than the almost mandatory requirement to RE-READ Austen whenever possible, it is a “truth universally acknowledged” that an Austen reader will be soon in want of another book!   I have seen many such lists and though always subjective to the list-maker, they are a great start.  But what about Austen’s own reading?  A number of articles have been written on this, as much is known from her letters, but as our JASNA-Vermont Chapter recently had a meeting and discussion on Northanger Abbey, and we know that NA was Austen’s tribute to the novel and reading, I would like to provide a list of books she actually cites throughout NA….it is an illuminating compilation and should keep us all busy for the next year at least!  [ please note that there is no particular order to this list…. and if I have left anything out, please let me know!]

The Northanger Canon [ i.e. the “Horrid” Novels as referenced by Isabella Thorpe in Chapter 6 of NA]; also see the article describing each book in more detail at The University of Virginia’s Gothic Books Collection.

  • THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO.  by Ann Ward Radcliffe.  London, 1794.
  • THE CASTLE OF WOLFENBACH.  by Mrs. Eliza Parsons. London, 1793.
  • CLERMONT: A TALE.  by Regina Maria Roche.  London, 1798.
  • THE MYSTERIOUS WARNING.  by Mrs. Eliza Parsons.  London, 1796.
  • THE NECROMANCER; OR THE TALE OF THE BLACK FOREST, FOUNDED ON FACTS.  Translated from the German of Lawrence Flammenberg by Peter Teuthold.  London, 1794.
  • THE MIDNIGHT BELL, A GERMAN STORY.  by Francis Lathom.  London, 1798.
  • THE ORPHAN OF THE RHINE: A ROMANCE.  by Mrs. Eleanor Sleath.  London, 1798.
  • THE ITALIAN.  by Ann Ward Radcliffe.  London, 1797.

Other titles cited in Northanger Abbey:                          

  1. Burney, Fanny.  CECELIA, OR MEMOIRS OF AN HEIRESS  (1782)
  2. ____________.   CAMILLA, OR A PICTURE OF YOUTH (1796)
  3. Edgeworth, Maria.  BELINDA  (1801)
  4. Fielding, Henry.  TOM JONES  (1749)
  5. Richardson, Samuel.  SIR CHARLES GRANDISON (1753-4)
  6. _________________.  #97 THE RAMBLER  (quoted)
  7. Lewis, Matthew Gregory. THE MONK  (1796)
  8. Johnson, Samuel.  JOHNSON’S DICTIONARY (1755)
  9. Blair, Hugh.  LECTURES OF RHETORIC  (1783)
  10. Hume, David.  HISTORY OF ENGLAND  (1754-62)
  11. Robertson, William.  HISTORY OF SCOTLAND  (1759)
  12. “The Mirror”, an essay by John Homespun, March 6, 1779.
  13. Cowper, William [noted in the Biographical Notice by Henry Austen as JA’s favorite poetic moralist]
  14. Gilpin, William. Three essays on the Picturesque: Beauty, Travel, Sketching Landscape (1792)
  15. Gay, John. FABLES: “The Hare and Many Friends” (1727)
  16. Pope, Alexander.  “Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady” (1717)
  17. Gray, Thomas.  [his ELEGY is misquoted]
  18. Shakespeare, William.  [misquoted OTHELLO, MEASURE FOR MEASURE, TWELFTH NIGHT ]
  19. Thompson… “The Seasons” [misquoting “The Spring” ]
  20. Milton, John.  [ mentioned ]
  21. Moss, Rev. Thomas.  “The Beggars Petition” from POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS  (1769)
  22. Prior, Matthew.  [there is an undocumented reference to Prior in the “Literary Allusions” listing noted below for NA; Prior’s HENRY AND EMMA (1709) is alluded to in Persuasion]
  24. Sterne, Laurence.  A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY

William Gilpin's "Picturesque" View of Tintern Abbey


1. “Literary Allusions in Jane Austen’s Writings” at The Republic of Pemberley (mostly compiled from Chapman’s indexes)

2. Ehrenpreis, Anne Henry.  “Introduction to Northanger Abbey“ [ Penguin, 1972 ].  An excellent introduction to the novel, with notes on all the books cited by Austen, with a nice discussion of the “horrid” novels as well as references to other works cited in the novel.

3.  Chapman, R.W.  Indexes to Northanger Abbey and Persuasion [ volume 5 of his edition ]

3 thoughts on “The “Northanger Canon”: Jane Austen’s Booklist

  1. Pingback: The Sunday Salon: Preview of Oxford World’s Classics: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe: Day 16 Giveaway « Austenprose

  2. Pingback: Ann Radcliffe ~ July 9, 1764 « Bygone Books Blog

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