Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Incomplete Jane Austen

You never know, what you have tucked away in a draw may be worth a lot of money in years to come, or become a precious family heirloom passed down from generation to generation. For Jane Austen it took 207 years to find out what an incomplete manuscript was worth.

She began writing ‘The Watsons’ in 1804 after she had finished the first draft of Sense and Sensibility. She hadn’t gotten far into ‘The Watson’s’ and literary experts assume she had only written one quarter of the book in her own hand about a young girl brought up by her aunt.

For writers like myself who are fascinated with authors such as Jane, our eyes will gobble up her handwriting of this work in progress with notations and revisions. Hang on to your hat! You can see it here and read the text.


Click on ‘Manuscripts’ and on the page click the manuscript you are interested in viewing. To the left will be the text typed out for you. To the right the text in Jane’s original hand.

This is an exciting manuscript. I loved reading through it, seeing how she made corrections and revisions. Imagine her sitting at her writing desk, dipping her quill into the inkwell and penning the words, her mind racing with imagery and the storyline she is so anxious to get down on paper. She had no telephone to interrupt her. No internet to distract her. It was just Jane and her imagination.

‘The Watsons’ manuscript was expected to sell at auction for as much as $490,000. But it ended up selling for a whopping $1.6 million in London this July. You can read about the auction here, and view the video of the sale.


If you read the text, please share your thoughts. Where do you think she was going with this story?

1 comment:

Carrie Pagels said...

Wow! Shows you how many Jane Austen lovers are out there when the amount at auction was almost triple expectation! Thanks for this interesting post, Rita!