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!