Persuasions #9, 1987 Page 3
This is necessarily a “hail-and-farewell” kind of editorial. Although I took over the editorship from Joan Austen-Leigh only last year, my professional commitments, including a research fellowship awarded to me for work on the eighteenth-century novel, necessitate my handing over Persuasions after editing only one issue. However, JASNA members and other subscribers can rest assured that Persuasions will pass on into able hands. Dr. Gene Koppel, author of a book on Jane Austen now in press, will succeed me as the editor of Persuasions Number Ten. Many of our readers will know Gene already: he has been a long-term member of the Board of JASNA and of the publications Committee, and editor of the Society’s Occasional Papers; and he has addressed us at past conferences. His expertise in Jane Austen Studies, his experience, and his sterling service to the Society make him thoroughly fitted for the job as editor of Persuasions. I know you will wish him well.
As for my own ”farewell,” I say that as editor only. I’m still a member of the Board of JASNA, and I plan to keep coming to the conferences as often as I can. So you’re not rid of me yet.
A word of our last editor. Joan Austen-Leigh, who laid down her “own darling child,” Persuasions, in order to pay fuller attention to another literary offspring, has now finished her novel, Stephanie at War, a sequel to her Stephanie. It is being published by Room of One’s Own Press in Victoria, B.C. Joan is true to her Austen blood.
Number Nine, my one and only issue of Persuasions, is still one I can be proud of. There is something here to suit the tastes of everyone – at least of all readers of Jane Austen. We have prose and verse, words and pictures, the light-hearted and the serious. There is at least one item on nearly all of the major novels; poems on the letters; and studies biographical, topographical and literary. Some contributors have been zealous in providing apt illustrative material. We have drawn on the graphic talents of others, who in response to our competition have provided lively illustrations to the juvenilia. A rather large proportion of this issue is necessarily devoted to the papers delivered at the October conference in New York. “Necessarily,” because that was a four-day conference with a crowded programme, and a number of outstanding performers. I feel I owe it to the many members who were unable to be at the conference to give them more than a taste of what happened there. But I believe that this part of the issue especially will make Persuasions more than ever a journal that Austen scholars, and their university libraries, can’t afford to be without. The Juvenilia and Lady Susan, the central concern of this year’s conference, have never before received this degree of sustained and searching criticism, and by outstanding scholars. I consider that the papers delivered at the conference (not all of which could be included here) would merit publication as a book, and I hope the book happens. I also hope that the JASNA members who couldn’t be in New York will find them entertaining and informative.
An editor must be allowed her personal notes. My sitting-room set of Jane Austen is the green cloth one with colour illustrations by Charles E. Brock. (I have Chapman in my office, Penguin in my library carrel, and assorted Riversides and Nortons on my teaching shelves. I never like to be long out of reach of a set of Jane Austen!) In the Northanger Abbey volume of this prized home set appears this inscription: “For my intelligent (?) daughter, Juliet – hoping she will acquire a love for the classics – Mum, Christmas 1951.” Some JASNA members and readers of Persuasions will recall my mother as the heroine of one of the anecdotes in my talk on “Hospitality” at the Toronto conference in 1984. As I go to press with this issue of a journal devoted to Jane Austen, my mother is celebrating her birthday (less than a month away from Jane’s) – her ninetieth. The best I can wish her is that all her hopes will succeed as well as that one she wished me with her gift of Northanger Abbey for my fifteenth Christmas.