Jane Austen's house museum in Chawton acquired a rare manuscript by the writer through crowdfunding


A letter written by Jane Austen to her granddaughter has been crowdfunded by the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton. On display through the end of 2019.

The Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, the house museum of one of the most celebratedwriters in British literature, has acquired a precious and rare letter written by Jane Austen herself to her niece Anna Austen in 1814. From August 20 until the end of 2019, it can be seen on display at the very house museum as part of the Making the Museum exhibition, which aims to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the opening of Jane Austen’s house as a museum.

The letter was purchased thanks to the great support of many donors, more than 250, from all over the world who through a crowdfunding campaign raised over the course of six weeks more than 10,000; thanks to the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Stephenson James Charitable Trust, and the Walter Guinness Charitable Trust the museum reached the necessary purchase amount of 35,000.

The letter, or rather, the letter fragment is thus added to the twelve other letters that the museum holds.
As mentioned, Jane Austen wrote the letter to her niece Anna in November 1814, when the writer was living in the Chawton cottage, now converted into a house museum.

Kathryn Sutherland, an Austen scholar at Jane Austen’s House Museum says, commenting on the letter, that this fragment is pleasant to read and rich in information-it fits extraordinarily well among the other specimens in the collection. The museum has two earlier letters written during the writer’s stay in London, when she lived with her brother Henry, in May 1813 and March 1814. The purchased specimen, from November 1814, dates from the period when Jane Austen was discussing the second edition of her novel Mansfield Park with her publisher Thomas Egerton.

Mary Guyatt, director of Jane Austen’s House Museum, said, “We are thrilled and excited to be able to display this rare and irreplaceable manuscript, and we would like to thank all the people and organizations who helped us secure this letter’s future here. Each new acquisition provides visibility for the museum to increasingly appreciate and share Jane Austen’s home.”

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Jane Austen's house museum in Chawton acquired a rare manuscript by the writer through crowdfunding
Jane Austen's house museum in Chawton acquired a rare manuscript by the writer through crowdfunding