Jane Austen - Hulton Archive, Getty Images
A great fan of Jane Austen, I was fascinated to hear a revealing story about her writing on NPR this week. Oxford University professor Kathryn Sutherland has studied Austen's original manuscripts, and concluded that her prose - reputed to have been impeccable at first draft stage - was in fact heavily edited for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
It seems some die-hard Austen fans are disillusioned at the news. As both an ardent reader of Austen, and a writer who admires her work, I'm actually a little relieved. It's somehow comforting to realize even Austen needed a little polish. Of course, her work deserves to be revered, but many of the world's greatest writers could probably benefit from a little red ink. Step down from your pedestal, dear Jane.