Goodreads Blog

New Discovery: Goodreads to Publish Lost Jane Austen Novel

Posted by Jessica Donaghy on April 01, 2014

"A girl without a father can never have too many brothers, yet Abigail Branscombe often found her three elder brothers to be quite vexing."
—Opening line of Mirth and Mischief by Jane Austen

It is with great excitement and a weighty sense of responsibility that we make today's announcement: Goodreads has acquired and will release a previously unpublished work by Jane Austen. The full-length novel, titled Mirth and Mischief, will be made available to all readers in fall of 2014. We could not be more thrilled to introduce the world to Abigail Branscombe, an irrepressible heroine to join the ranks of Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse, whose story of love, and yes, mischief will delight and perhaps shock Austen fans worldwide.

Our unlikely communion with Jane Austen began in August of 2013, when we moved our growing team to our new headquarters in San Francisco. Eager to fill our empty shelves with books, we purchased a large lot of volumes from an estate sale in nearby Napa Valley. Wedged between two aging folios, we found a full manuscript prefaced by a cover letter from Henry Austen, Jane's elder brother who acted as her literary agent, to London publisher Benjamin Crosby.

We have used the last seven months to consult with historians, Austen scholars, and legal counsel to verify the authenticity of the manuscript. We used every test at our disposal—including radiocarbon dating of the manuscript and verification of Henry Austen's signature. As the manuscript continued to pass each test, we could scarcely believe what we had stumbled on! After a rigorous textual comparison of the manuscript to Austen's known works, forensic linguists at the University of Oxford have confirmed the authorship as belonging to none other than Jane Austen.

Set in Derbyshire (Pride and Prejudice fans will remember this county as the home of Mr. Darcy's estate, Pemberley), Mirth and Mischief begins at Wicksfield Park, the home of 18-year-old Abigail, the youngest child and only daughter of the Branscombe family. Her parents died when she was in her infancy, and Abigail has grown up under the care of her three dashing older brothers. Henry, the indulgent eldest, runs the estate while Edward and George spend most of their time in the county's ballrooms and hunting fields. Headstrong young Abigail reads more and rides faster than any of her brothers, but soon finds that those skills may not work to her advantage when it comes to the sport of finding a husband—until she meets the intriguing and difficult Colonel John Durrant. Austen herself had six brothers, and this story is a touching homage to her favorite brother, Henry, who was instrumental in her publishing career.

We are in the final stages of preparing the novel for publication. Once completed, the priceless manuscript, despite its unlikely journey across the Atlantic to San Francisco, will be sent home to England and donated to the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, a leading force in Austen scholarship.

We cannot wait for Abigail Branscombe to take her place in the pantheon of Jane Austen heroines. Can you? In the meantime, add the book to your to-read shelf!


Comments (showing 1-50 of 176) (176 new)


message 1: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I read an ARC. It's kind of a cross between William S. Burroughs and Teresa of Ávila, except with less dildos and mystical quietude.


message 2: by Lora (new)

Lora What a day for mirth and mischief! If this is not a spoof, the timing is most inauspicious. I would love it to be true, but my suspicions prevent elation.


message 3: by Georgiana (new)

Georgiana 1792 What a nice title for an April Fool!


message 4: by Nikki (new)

Nikki The world doesn't need more of Jane Austen.


message 5: by Charley (new)

Charley Louise Ardley Well, if this isn't an April Fools, I would love it to be true, however, I can't believe it until tomorrow


message 6: by T.R. (new)

T.R. Winters Hmm, that opening life doesn't SOUND like Jane Austin! I bet it's a joke, what a pity!!!!


message 7: by T.R. (new)

T.R. Winters Lora wrote: "What a day for mirth and mischief! If this is not a spoof, the timing is most inauspicious. I would love it to be true, but my suspicions prevent elation."

Well said, oh eloquent person! :-)


message 8: by Garrett (new)

Garrett Cash Crap, I kind of half-fell for this. It never seemed fully on the level, but I had hope (wipes away tear).


message 9: by Chrissie (last edited Apr 01, 2014 01:21AM) (new)

Chrissie If only our were true. Well played Goodreads, well played.


message 10: by Claire (new)

Claire I must say, I fell for it. Well done Goodreads.


message 11: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Haha one of the best I've come across so far today.


message 12: by Lesley (new)

Lesley This is the best prank I've seen in a long time. Nice one.


message 13: by Jim (new)

Jim I also heard through the grapevine that the book will be available for first generation Kindles....


message 14: by Hriday (new)

Hriday and you can get a whiff of what the book smells like, using Google Nose?? :D https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFbYa...


message 15: by Tineke (new)

Tineke I fell for it too, but then I read the comments and realised it is April Fool´s Day.


message 16: by Alex (last edited Apr 01, 2014 02:42AM) (new)

Alex You bastards.
I was so excited I yelled out at my Mum to tell her the news, then stopped mid sentence when I realised the date. Well done.
Guess I wasn't so on guard since here in Australia it's nighttime and April Fools Day is pretty much over.


message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim Alex wrote: "You bastards.
I was so excited I yelled out at my Mum to tell her the news, then stopped mid sentence when I realised the date. Well done.
Guess I wasn't so on guard since here in Australia it's ni..."


Damned Yanks!!


♆Beth♆♫Ƈαυѕє нσηєу уσυя ѕσυƖ cσυƖɗ ηєνєя gяσω σƖɗ, ιт'ѕ єνєяgяєєη♫ C Alex wrote: "You bastards.
I was so excited I yelled out at my Mum to tell her the news, then stopped mid sentence when I realised the date. Well done.
Guess I wasn't so on guard since here in Australia it's ni..."


Same. I fell for it, till I looked at the comments. Well played Goodreads, well played.


message 19: by Lee (new)

Lee Second only to the I'm a little Teapot post


message 20: by Janelle (new)

Janelle Nicely done Goodreads. Wish it was legit though, I was getting into the story!


اية محمود Aya Mahmoud that is so exiting
I love Jane Austen


♆Beth♆♫Ƈαυѕє нσηєу уσυя ѕσυƖ cσυƖɗ ηєνєя gяσω σƖɗ, ιт'ѕ єνєяgяєєη♫ C اية محمود wrote: "that is so exiting
I love Jane Austen"


April fools...


message 23: by Renée (new)

Renée oh my gosh, that's amazing! Congratulations Goodreads!!!!


message 24: by Renée (new)

Renée oh wait, is this an April Fools?


message 25: by Renée (new)

Renée Checking back tomorrow..... -_-


Adi (Reading in the Windowseat) Argh! If only today wasn't the 1st April!!! :D Nice one =)


message 28: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Keswick I was three paragraph's in before I realised what day it is today... Still, it would have been nice!


message 29: by D.G. (new)

D.G. Hilarious!

I realized right away...but decided to check anyway.

Liked the first sentence!!


♥ Innocent Lamb ~ Forever Reading ♥ - AKA Smarties I'd laugh if we're all treating this as an APril Fool's Joke and it's actually real. HAHAHAHA.


message 31: by Melek (new)

Melek G. Almost fell for it. Almost.


message 32: by Carol (new)

Carol APRIL FOOLS, hahahahahahaha good one, Goodreads.


message 33: by Roberta (new)

Roberta I'm going to believe it until midnight tonight, because I want to. I need a new Jane Austen


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

The only relationship Goodreads has with the REPUTABLE publishing industry is by protecting it from all the whackjobs you insist on coddling.

Ergo, not true.


message 35: by Sharon (new)

Sharon I love Jane Austen, this is cruel Goodreads, very cruel. But I still love you.


message 36: by Philip (new)

Philip Dodd Welb is not a word nor is norch or zunkwhim, but still, I can write them down and make you, dear reader, read them. Few are my brain cells left, and I must do all I can to feed them. Of rhyme, enough. I must say that I think it is rather disagreeable of Goodweeds, or is that Goodreads, my eye sight is not what it was in 1813 when my novel, Pride and Prejudice, was first published, to even think of publishing Mirth and Mischief, which I wrote one tedious afternoon, while waiting for the water to heat up in the kettle so I could have a bath. Be that as it may, I will still allow its publication, not for literary or novelistic reasons, but to put, as it were, some more pennies in my purse. Yours ever, Jane Austen.


message 37: by Hana (new)

Hana I really fell for this, I could feel my heart racing with excitement :(


message 38: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Well played GR! If I wasnt such a big Jane Austen fan I'd have totally bought it :)


message 39: by Kellyanne (new)

Kellyanne Yep. I fell for this hook, line, and sinker. Sigh.


message 40: by Kari (new)

Kari Lol, it would be lovely if it were true!! Well played, Goodreads... Well played...


message 41: by N.J. (new)

N.J. Layouni Oh I so WISH this were true. Maybe one day, eh? People are always finding stuff in their attics, right?


message 42: by Sara (last edited Apr 01, 2014 05:13AM) (new)

Sara Coleman If only that were true - happy April 1st!


message 43: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Very nice for a April Fool's Joke.


message 44: by Yvenande (new)

Yvenande Yeah, this is definitely an April Fool's joke. No way something this momentous wouldn't have made the news. What are the odds of Goodreads finding this lost Jane Austen book that nobody knew existed?


message 45: by Tatuu (new)

Tatuu Lora wrote: "What a day for mirth and mischief! If this is not a spoof, the timing is most inauspicious. I would love it to be true, but my suspicions prevent elation."

I'm with you on this Lora.


message 46: by Alanna (new)

Alanna Mooney Took me a minute to cotton on but I'm there now. Damn you Goodreads for getting me all excited and then ripping it away again. Well played!


message 47: by David (last edited Apr 01, 2014 05:43AM) (new)

David Elswick I read the leaked copy. Unbelievable story, Austen was so ahead of her time. If this gets made into a film, I think the role of Colonel John Durrant should go to Russell Brand.


message 48: by Saira (new)

Saira ♥ Innocent Lamb ~ Forever Reading ♥ - AKA Smarties wrote: "I'd laugh if we're all treating this as an APril Fool's Joke and it's actually real. HAHAHAHA."

That would be awesome.


message 49: by Jane (new)

Jane Didn't fall for it but it was good except for the highly unlikely idea that you'd donate it back to England. Literary patrimony tends to go in the other direction, doesn't it?


message 50: by Hannah (last edited Apr 01, 2014 05:50AM) (new)

Hannah That actually sounds (like a) really good (prank).


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