Novels Online is an ongoing project here at Chawton House Library. It makes full-text transcripts of some of the rarest works freely accessible from our website.

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Over recent months there have been significant developments with this project and at the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) 2015 annual meeting, twenty-seven signed up as volunteers to type up scans of rare works before they are then proofread and uploaded onto our website. There is more information about this process on our February podcast.

Rare texts will continue to be added over the forthcoming months, some of which are anonymous. They will include:

The Cottage of Friendship
Irish Tales: or, Instructive Histories for the Happy Conduct of Life
The Adulteress; or, Anecdotes of Two Noble Families
Malouka, or the Pious Mussulman
The History of Zoa, the Beautiful Indian
The Midnight Assassin, or, Confession of the Monk Rinaldi
The Pleasures of Friendship
Prudence and Principle
The Life and Surprising Adventures of Mary Ann Talbot

The most recent work uploaded to the website is Jane Taylor’s Display: a Tale. Jane (1783-1824), along with her sister Ann, wrote prose and poetry primarily for a younger audience that included Jane’s ‘The Star’ (‘Twinkle, twinkle, litter star’). Display: a Tale was very popular when first published and records the reformation of a young woman who judges by appearances. Another work by Taylor: Rachel: a Tale is also on the Novels Online website whilst her Prudence and Principle: a Tale is currently being typed up by year 13 Oxbridge candidates at Portsmouth Grammar School.

It is hoped that these works will stimulate interest in those unable to visit Chawton House Library in person to consult the collection, and to encourage critical scholarship of the more obscure texts and authors represented in the collection.