Jane Austen letter set to be sold by Torquay Museum

image captionThe letter from Jane Austen to her sister could sell for £200,000, the museum hopes

A previously unseen letter penned by Jane Austen is set to be sold by Torquay Museum.

The letter, from the famous author to her sister, makes a reference to her novel Pride and Prejudice - which at the time had not yet been published.

The letter is part of a collection that includes letters from Charlotte Bronte, John Keats and Abraham Lincoln given to the museum in the 1930s.

Director Basil Greenwood said selling the letter could raise £200,000.

image captionTorquay Museum director Basil Greenwood said it was "very exciting" to have the letter at the museum

Mr Greenwood said: "It's a fantastic item, it is exciting to have it here.

"It went through a period where it was actually lost and nobody knew quite where it was.

"Then in 1989 it was found by someone searching through cupboards who found eight albums of autograph letters."

He said the collection amounted to 3,500 items, one of which was Austen's letter.

The collection was donated to the museum by Hester Pengelly, the daughter of the founder of the museum, William Pengelly.

Mr Greenwood said the sale of the letter was to ensure the future of the museum.

"We wish to build up an endowment policy," he said.

"The museum has relied on legacies and donations from significant individuals which has kept us going for 170 years but we need to look at other ways to remain open."

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