Mary Brunton


Mary Brunton's Self-Control: A Novel is mentioned three times in Jane Austen's Letters. The first two are in letters addressed to her sister Cassandra:

Letter 72, Tuesday 30 April 1811
We have tried to get Self-controul, but in vain.--I should like to know what her Estimate is--but am always half afraid of finding a clever novel too clever--& of finding my own story & my own people all forestalled.

Letter 91, Monday 11- Tuesday 12 October 1813
I am looking over Self Control again, & my opinion is confirmed of its' being an excellently-meant, elegantly-written Work, without anything of Nature or Probability in it. I declare I do not know whether Laura's passage down the American River, is not the most natural, possible, every-day thing she ever does.

The third is in a letter to her niece Anna Lefroy:

Letter 111, ?Thursday 24 November 1814
I will redeem my credit with him, by writing a close Imitation of "Self-control" as soon as I can;--I will improve upon it;--my Heroine shall not merely be wafted down an American river in a boat by herself, she shall cross the Atlantic in the same way, & never stop till she reaches Gravesent.--

Searching for information about Mrs. Brunton I discoverd that she had published two novels, the other being named Discipline. The titles intrigued me, perhaps because I possess little of either. There's a third volume, published posthumously by her husband under the title Emmeline, which consists of a memoir written by her husband including some of her letters, Emmeline, a novel left unfinished at her death, extracts from two travel journals and some other writing.

I'm preparing etexts of all three volumes, starting with Self-Control. I'll post chapters as I finish them in HTML. Each volume will be available for download in HTML and as text.

Status Report (June 16, 2003)
Self-Control is complete. Discipline is complete. Emmeline is complete. Now that the texts are completed I'll package them for dowload as HTML and text.