This little work was finished in the year 1803, and intended for immediate publication. It was disposed of to a bookseller, it was even advertised, and why the business proceeded no farther, the author has never been able to learn. That any bookseller should think it worth-while to purchase what he did not think it worth-while to publish seems extraordinary. But with this, neither the author nor the public have any other concern than as some observation is necessary upon those parts of the work which thirteen years have made comparatively obsolete. The public are entreated to bear in mind that thirteen years have passed since it was finished, many more since it was begun, and that during that period, places, manners, books, and opinions have undergone considerable changes.
-- Jane Austen, in the Advertisement to Northanger Abbey. She was only able actually to publish the book because the publisher sold it back to her in 1816.TOF notes another intriguing detail: the dizzying pace of change in the years between 1803 and 1816! Miss Austen felt it necessary to caution her readers because "during that period, places, manners, books, and opinions have undergone considerable changes." This is much like cautioning readers today of the many changed since a text was written in 2001. It seems that such is not such a new thing after all.