Jane Austen museum in Hampshire displays rare letter

Jane Austen's house at Chawton The 17th century house at Chawton is where where Austen spent the last eight years of her life

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A museum in the house where Jane Austen completed Pride And Prejudice has opened an exhibition as part of the novel's 200th anniversary celebrations.

Visitors to Jane Austen's House Museum, in Chawton, Hampshire, can view a rarely seen letter in which Austen says the novel is "my own darling child".

Also featured are illustrations first included in an 1894 edition, dancing slippers and first editions.

The Story of Pride And Prejudice exhibition is open until May.

The museum's Madelaine Smith said the enduring appeal of the novel is its perennial themes and that the "characters are real".

The museum will also stage a contemporary art exhibition of works inspired by Pride And Prejudice from June to September.

Another display later in the year of the original costumes worn in the 1995 BBC adaptation of the novel, will include the white shirt worn by actor Colin Firth as Mr Darcy when he emerged from a lake.

"We're not sure if we're going to have it on display wet, but if we do we'll have to spray it daily with water," Ms Smith said.

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