In Sanditon, Austen explored her interest in the verbal construction of a society by means of a town – and a set of families – that is still in the process of being formed. Austen began work on the novel in January 1817 and abandoned it on 18 March 1817. The manuscript for Sanditon was originally titled "The Brothers", likely after the Parker brothers in the story. After her death, her family renamed it "Sanditon".
The Watsons -
Mr. Watson is a widowed clergyman with two sons and four daughters. The youngest daughter, Emma, has been brought up by a wealthy aunt and is consequently better educated and more refined than her sisters. But when her aunt contracts a foolish second marriage, Emma is obliged to return to her father's house. There she is chagrined by the crude and reckless husband-hunting of two of her twenty-something sisters. She finds the kindness of her eldest and most responsible sister, Elizabeth, more attractive.
Living near the Watsons are the Osbornes, a great titled family. Emma attracts some notice from the boorish and awkward young Lord Osborne, while one of her sisters plaintively pursues Lord Osborne's arrogant, social-climbing friend, Tom Musgrave. Various minor characters provide potential matches for Emma's brothers and sisters.
Mr. Watson is seriously ill in the opening chapters, and Austen confided in her sister Cassandra that he was to die in the course of the work. Emma was to decline a marriage proposal from Lord Osborne, and was eventually to marry Osborne's virtuous former tutor, Mr. Howard.