Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be completed for publication, though she had previously made a start on Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. According to Cassandra Austen’s Memorandum, Susan (as it was first called) was written circa 1798–99. It was revised by Austen for the press in 1803, and sold in the same year for £10 to a London bookseller, Crosby & Co., who decided against publishing. In the spring of 1816, the bookseller was content to sell it back to the novelist’s brother, Henry Austen, for the exact sum—£10—that he had paid for it at the beginning, not knowing that the writer was by then the author of four popular novels.
The novel was further revised by Austen in 1816/17, with the intention of having it published. Among other changes, the lead character’s name was changed from Susan to Catherine, and Austen retitled the book Catherine as a result.