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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

The complete Hubback, at last

Great news for aficionados of Jane Austen fan fiction: the long-inaccessible third volume of The Younger Sister, by Austen’s niece Catherine Hubback, is finally online,* in a version newly digitized by the University of Iowa. As readers of my January-February blog series The Watsons in Winter will recall, Hubback’s 1850 continuation of Austen’s unfinished novel The Watsons was the first published example of the now-popular genre of Austen fan fiction. Copies of the book, long out of print, exist in only a handful of research libraries around the world, and although the first two volumes have long been available online, in versions digitized by Oxford’s Bodleian Library, the third volume had proved too fragile to scan. Most readers wanting to find out how Hubback ends her story were out of luck. Enter Iowa’s heroic librarians (really, that’s a phrase that should be employed more often, don’t you think?) Iowa holds the only copy of Hubback’s book available for interlibrary loan in the U.S., and when I emailed its librarians to ask about the possibility of digitizing this historically interesting book, they responded rapidly and favorably. And now they’ve done it! Iowa’s digitized version of Volume III can be read online or downloaded as a PDF: I acquired all 434 pages in 25 minutes. I’m looking forward to finishing Hubback’s story at last. She’s not as good a writer as her aunt--who is?–but she’s an entertaining Victorian who deserves to be read, if only because her early homage to Austen inspired so many to follow the same path. * Thanks to reader cmickey, who alerted me to this news.


Sep 4 2015 02:41PM by Grace

So glad to see this! I was rather disheartened when I saw the comment on google books about the third volume being unavailable. Oh the regret that Austen didn't live long enough to produce more books keeps me up at night!

Sep 4 2015 02:48PM by Deborah Yaffe

Yes, the University of Iowa did all of us Janeites a big favor! Though I too would prefer a new Jane Austen -- alas for the shortcomings of 19th-century medicine. . .

Jun 13 2016 05:17AM by Giuliana

Thank you so much for answering! But unfortunately I cant seem to access to the digital copy of the 3rd volume. I follow the link to the University of Iowa digital library, but an error 500 (caused by the server of the library's page) occurs everytime, for some reason, that link is down. I'd appreciate if you or another reader can help me in any way.

Jun 13 2016 01:43PM by Deborah Yaffe

Hmm: I downloaded my own copy long ago, so I haven't tried that link in ages. I tried again now and got there with no trouble from here: -- does that work for you? If not, I'd recommend that you contact the library directly -- I found them very responsive when I reached out to them. Looks like one possible contact email is Good luck!

Jul 23 2016 06:28PM by Giuliana

Yay!!! That link you gave me did work!! I was a able to finally download it! I can't wait to read it Thank you so much for your help, it is invaluable

Jul 23 2016 08:09PM by Deborah Yaffe

Great -- so glad you got what you needed!

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