Hampshire & Isle of Wight

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

Jane Austen letter Image copyright Jane Austen House Museum
Image caption Jane Austen wrote to her niece Anna Austen in 1814

A rare section of a letter written by Jane Austen is set to go on public show after a crowdfunding appeal reached its target of £10,000.

Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, was hoping to buy the letter, written to her niece Anna Austen in 1814.

Collections manager Sophie Reynolds said the public support for the appeal had been "overwhelming".

The letter, dated 29 November 1814, had recently surfaced after being lost.

Final talks

The museum launched a crowdfunding appeal last month, having already raised about £25,000, partly through a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.

Final negotiations are taking place with other funders to secure financing for the item, Ms Reynolds said.

The letter, currently in private hands, 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."

'Not prim'

Ms Reynolds said many of the letters Jane Austen had written were destroyed after her death, making even fragments "incredibly valuable".

"It shows a different side to her - just chatting about daily life. It's a real personal insight into who she was as a woman - not prim at all; witty, funny and normal."

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.

Once purchased, the letter would go on show at the museum.

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

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

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