Jane Austen letter appeal: Chawton museum seeks £10,000

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Jane Austen letterImage source, Jane Austen House Museum
Image caption,
Jane Austen wrote to her niece Anna Austen in 1814

An appeal has been launched to buy a rare section of a letter written by Jane Austen.

Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, hopes to buy the letter, written to her niece Anna Austen in 1814, before it is due to be sold.

The museum needs to raise £10,000 of the £35,000 negotiated price of the letter, which is in private hands.

Director Dr Mary Guyatt said it was important to have the document "safe and secure in Jane Austen's own home".

The museum, in the house in the village of Chawton where Austen lived from 1809, until her death in 1817, already holds 12 letters written by her, as well as others by close family members.

The building is where she completed all of her novels, including Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and Emma.

The letter, dated 29 November 1814, had recently surfaced after being lost for a number of years. It contains glimpses into Austen's views on family life.

"I like first Cousins to be first Cousins, & interested about each other. They are but one remove from Br. & Sr.," it said.

It also mentions a trip to the theatre, with a quip: "I took two Pocket handkerchiefs, but had very little occasion for either."

Image source, Jane Austen House Museum
Image caption,
The museum is located in the house in Chawton in which Jane Austen lived

The museum has already raised £25,000, partly through a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant. If the appeal is successful before the letter is due to be sold in six weeks, the letter would go on show at the museum.

Dr Guyatt said: "Rescuing this irreplaceable letter fragment will allow the Museum to build its collection of Austen letters and advance the museum's vision to cherish and share Jane Austen's home, work and legacy as an inspiration to the world."

Austen, who lived most of her life in Hampshire, is one of English literature's most celebrated authors.

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