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Jane Austen Letter to Cassandra up for auction

A rare handwritten letter from Jane Austen is coming up for auction on 23rd October 2019 at Bonhams in New York.

Although Jane was a prolific letter writer (it’s estimated that she composed at least 3000 during her life), there are only around 160 known examples surviving – many were destroyed routinely, as was custom of the time and it is suggested by some that a number were deliberately destroyed to protect the Austen family and Jane’s image.

This particular letter, dated September 1810, was written to her sister Cassandra and discusses many personal matters, including music lessons, the children’s dentistry and Mrs Tilson’s child-bearing (by this point, the wife of Henry’s business partner had given birth to at least thirteen children and Jane predicts that she may be “in the family way” again. Jane is also glad to report on her mother’s health and that she is “no longer in need of leeches”.

The letter also contains a beautiful snapshot of Jane’s everyday life with a wonderfully Austenian line: “We are now all four of us young Ladies sitting round the Circular Table in the inner room writing our Letters, while the two Brothers are having a comfortable coze in the room adjoining…”. Interestingly, Mansfield Park contains the first known published use of the word “coze” and this letter pre-dates that.

The book is expected to reach $80,000 – 120,000 (£65,000 – 98,000) at the auction – time to raid those piggy banks!


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The Jane Austen Quiz – Food Glorious Food!

The Jane Austen Quiz – Food Glorious Food

This edition of the Jane Austen Quiz centres around food mentions in Jane’s novels. Score 8/10 or better and you’ll be in with a chance to win a £10 voucher for our Online Gift Shop in our monthly quiz prize draw!

If you’d like to see your scores without entering the competition, just scroll to the bottom of the page after entering the last question and hit the submit button!


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Meet the Watsons!

Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Sanditon isn’t the only adaptation of an unfinished novel which is making headlines in the UK at the moment. After a sell-out run in its debut at the Chichester Festival Season in 2018, The Watsons has made its way to London where it’s running until 16th November.

Sadly as the time of writing, the entire run is sold out, but given the five star ratings it has already received and its credentials (it’s written by Laura Wade, this year’s recipient of the Oliver Award for Best New Comedy), surely there will be future opportunities to meet the Watsons!

The play’s start point is Jane Austen’s unfinished novel – The Watsons. Abandoned in 1805, Jane’s 68 page handwritten partial manuscript sold at auction in 2011 for almost a million pounds and is now the property of the Bodleian Library.

Whereas Andrew Davies filled in the blanks left by Austen for Sanditon, Wade has taken a slightly different approach. With the novel left unfinished, what can the characters do with their author abandons them? Who will write a happy ending for the tale’s heroine, Emma Watson, now?

Click here to visit the Menier Chocolate Factory theatre website where returns will be listed daily. You can also sign up for updates on the future life of the show.

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The Jane Austen Quiz – A Northanger Abbey Special

The Jane Austen Quiz – A Northanger Abbey Special

The Jane Austen Quiz - A Northanger Abbey Special

This edition of the Jane Austen Quiz centres around Northanger Abbey” Score 8/10 or better and you’ll be in with a chance to win a £10 voucher for our Online Gift Shop in our monthly quiz prize draw!


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The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World

Beautiful libraries

What does the word “library” evoke in your mind? The smell of old books? Dusty shelves? A sense of peace and tranquility? Or something completely different?

The New York Public Library


Vogue UK published a fascinating article last week in which it examined eight of the most beautiful libraries in the world. From the classically beautiful Duke Humfrey’s Library in Oxford (which doubled as the Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter movies) to the clinically modern open-plan Stuttgart City Library, the breadth of styles here means that there is probably a dream bookish haven for any book lover! You can read the article here:


Binhai Library, China

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Playing Piano with the Great-Great-Granddaughter of Fanny Knight

Back in 2009, Gwen Bevan, the great-great-granddaughter of Jane Austen’s niece, Fanny Knight composed a dozen piano pieces, each reflecting a different aspect of Bath as Jane Austen would have known it. These pieces have been deliberately composed to be tuneful and expressive, without being difficult to learn and have been transcribed into a handsome book of sheets music and illustrations called “A Carriage Ride in Queen Square”, with an accompanying CD of the pieces being played.

The Jane Austen Centre is pleased to present an exclusive audio extract from the CD – Gwen’s musical interpretation of Great Pultney Street.

Great Pultney Street

“They arrived at Bath. Catherine was all eager delight–her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already. They were soon settled in comfortable lodgings in Pulteney Street.” Northanger Abbey

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Pictures from the Jane Austen Festival 2019

All across Bath, bonnets have been sewn, dresses ironed and buckles polished, as we’ve welcomed visitors new and old to this year’s Jane Austen Festival!

The yearly festival favourite, our costumed promenade, saw hundreds of visitors in their finest Regency outfits basking in the late autumn sunshine as they sauntered through the streets of Bath.

Starting in Sydney Gardens, the parade was led by His Majesty’s 33rd Regiment of Foot.

The Guildhall played host to the Festival Fayre, where visitors could find everything Regency, from bonnets to books.

Events have been taking place all week, including theatrical performances, book readings, events at the Regency Tea Rooms, crafting workshops, tours and much more.

Is we write there, there are still two full days of the festival to go, so it’s not too late to take part – head over to the Jane Austen Festival website for a full schedule of this weekend’s events!

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Sanditon Celebrated With a 12 Metre Painted Mural

ITV’s Sanditon, the dramatisation of Austen’s unfinished final novel, was highly anticipated, but to generate extra buzz for its launch, ITV came up with a rather novel form of promotion. It commissioned the renowned landscape painter, David Downes, to create a huge mural painting on a advertising billboard in Charminster, a suburb of Bournemouth in Dorset.
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