Juvenilia: Early Printed Books

Juvenilia are literary, musical, or artistic works of artists in their childhood or youth. Juvenilia are usually published many years later after they have been composed—if they’re published at all—as the childhood works of a famous person.

6 comments

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Juvenilia are literary, musical, or artistic works of artists in their childhood or youth. The term is especially used for works of artists who have become famous later in life.

The word originates from the Latin juvenilis.

Juvenilia are usually published many years later after they have been composed—if they’re published at all—as the childhood works of a famous person.

The term was first used in the poetry collection, Ivvenilia, composed by George Wither in 1622.  Alfred Lord Tennyson and John Dryden also used “juvenilia” to describe their early works of poetry.

It is a genre by itself and a certain section of academicians are devoted to studying juvenilia. It usually consists of lighthearted pieces meant to entertain family and friends.


Jane Austen’s Juvenilia

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s juvenilia are the subject of many articles and research papers. Three of her notebooks that she wrote in until the age of 17 have survived. They contain stories, verses, moral pieces, and dramatic sketches.

The earliest piece was probably written when she was around 11-12 years old, in 1786 or 1787. The final entry was made in 1793 when she was around 17 years old. Notable among these pieces is an extremely funny parody, History of England.

What is interesting about Austen’s juvenilia is that unlike other teenage writers, hers is not a diary of confessions or secrets. Instead, she wrote with the expectation of validation and admiration. She dedicated her pieces to family members and friends and included inside jokes and events in her writings.

From the wear and tear of the notebooks, it is assumed that her mini-plays were probably enacted frequently and the rest of her pieces were read out to an audience.

Additions have also been made to Volume the Third (the third notebook) by Austen’s nephew (James Edward Austen) and niece (Jane Anna Elizabeth Lefroy). It is understood that these notebooks were used by the younger people in the family to practice their writing skills.

You can listen to Austen’s Juvenilia here:


Virginia Woolf’s Juvenilia

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell wrote juvenilia called The Hyde Park Gate News, starting when she was around 9 years old. The work consists of gossip from within the family circle, fiction, and sketches.

Critics have enjoyed her early work full of mimicry and satire, and it throws light on the maturation of an author from childhood to the person whose books are read by millions.


Juvenilia – a poetry collection

Juvenilia is also the title of a poetry collection by James Henry Leigh Hunt, composed between 12-16 years of age. This volume was published while he was still in his teens in 1801.

Other examples of juvenilia published when the author was still young are: Lord Byron’s Fugitive Pieces (17 years old) and Hours of Idleness (18 years old).


References:

1) https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/jane-austens-juvenilia

2) https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2007/jan/09/juvenilia

3) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/juvenilia

4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juvenilia_(poetry_collection)

5) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juvenilia

6 comments on “Juvenilia: Early Printed Books”

  1. New day new learnings, waise maybe even our school essays then should be called Juvenilia no? Should have asked mother to save my English Grammer notebooks!!!

  2. Ha! Ha! Ha! I was thinking the same thing. Even if I’m not a famous person, I have filled plenty of notebooks that will qualify as juvenilia.

  3. Thank you for sharing the audiobook link Satabdi. While I rested my tired eyes, my ears could continue to enjoy Austen’s early writings. A Hindi saying — ‘honhaar vidwaan ke hot chikne paat.’ comes to mind. Such promise at such young age.

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