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The Watsons is an unfinished novel by Jane Austen. She began writing it circa 1803 and probably abandoned it after her father's death in January 1805. It has five chapters, and is less than 18,000 words long.
 Plot summary
Mr. Watson is a widowed clergyman with two sons and four daughters. The youngest daughter, Emma, has been brought up by a wealthy aunt and is consequently better educated and more refined than her sisters. But when her aunt contracts a foolish second marriage, Emma is obliged to return to her father's house. There she is chagrined by the crude and reckless husband-hunting of two of her twenty-something sisters. She finds the kindness of her eldest and most responsible sister, Elizabeth, more attractive.
Living near the Watsons are the Osbornes, a great titled family. Emma attracts some notice from the boorish and awkward young Lord Osborne, while one of her sisters plaintively pursues Lord Osborne's arrogant, social-climbing friend, Tom Musgrave. Various minor characters provide potential matches for Emma's brothers and sisters.
Mr. Watson is seriously ill in the opening chapters, and Austen confided in her sister Cassandra that he was to die in the course of the work. Emma was to decline a marriage proposal from Lord Osborne, and was eventually to marry Osborne's virtuous former tutor, Mr. Howard.
Several attempts have been made to finish the novel.
Austen's niece, Catherine Hubback, completed The Watsons and published it under the title The Younger Sister in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Watsons is a completion by L. Oulton published in 1923 by D. Appleton and Company.
John Coates also published a completion in 1957.
Joan Aiken adapted and completed the novel as Emma Watson: The Watsons Completed, in 1996.
Laura Wade is adapting the text for the stage.
The Watsons (ISBN 1-904754-93-7) is a completion by Merryn Williams published in 2005.
The Watsons, by Jane Austen and Another Lady (ASIN B002ACZTWA) by Helen Baker is a completion published in 2008.
The Watsons Revisited (ISBN 978-1-4327-8563-5) is a completion by Eucharista Ward published in 2012 by Outskirts Press.
THE WATSONS by Jane Austen Completed by Jennifer Ready Bettiol (ASIN B009O5IYP0) was published in 2012 by Kindle Direct Publishing and is available digitally on amazon.com.
According to the BBC World News, on July 14, 2011, Sotheby's sold Austen's original manuscript to the Bodleian Library for £850,000. A Bodleian Library source said that this was the last Jane Austen MS still in private hands. Before the actual auction, Sotheby's had estimated the MS's value at £200,000-£300,000.
 Further reading
- Tomalin, Claire (1997). Jane Austen: A Life. New York: Vintage.
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