About the story
Love and Freindship is a juvenile story by Jane Austen, dated 1790. While aged 11–18, Austen wrote her tales in three notebooks. These still exist, one in the Bodleian Library and the other two in the British Museum. They contain, among other works, Love and Freindship, written when she was 14, and The History of England, written at 15.
Written in epistolary form like her later unpublished novella, Lady Susan, Love and Freindship is thought to be one of the tales she wrote for the amusement of her family. It was dedicated to her cousin Eliza de Feuillide, known as “La Comtesse de Feuillide”. The instalments, written as letters from the heroine Laura, to Marianne, the daughter of her friend Isabel, may have come about as nightly readings by the young Jane in the Austen home. Love and Freindship (the misspelling is one of many in the story) is clearly a parody of romantic novels Austen read as a child. This is clear even from the subtitle, “Deceived in Freindship and Betrayed in Love”, which undercuts the title.
In form, the story resembles a fairy tale in featuring wild coincidences and turns of fortune, but Austen is determined to lampoon the conventions of romantic stories, down to the utter failure of romantic fainting spells, which always turn out badly for the female characters. The story shows the development of Austen’s sharp wit and disdain for romantic sensibility, characteristic of her later novels.
The 2016 film Love & Friendship is a film version of Lady Susan, borrowing only the title from Love and Freindship.