Bodleian Buys “Watsons”

July 17, 2011 at 12:34 am (news) (, , )

Charlotte Frost tipped me off to the news — as she’s off to Oxford in September: the Bodleian Library is the “mystery” purchaser of Austen’s recently auctioned off manuscript of “The Watsons”. At least my Fanny Seymour (whose 3 sketchbooks exist in the same library) has some good company!

See notice of the manuscript “going on display” here.

Seems the bulk of the funding came through the National Heritage Memorial Fund — which “buys at-risk treasures”. A nice friend to have, huh? And here’s an interesting aside, from this same article: “Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s senior specialist for its books and manuscripts department, said ‘In the weeks before the sale we have been reminded of the remarkable appeal of Austen.'”

The article entices visitors to the site, which has manuscripts online — including “The Watsons.”

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Austen’s Watsons Sold!

July 14, 2011 at 11:25 am (news) (, , , )

And wow, look at the price at the final gavel: £993,250!

Macleans states that the 4-way tussle ended with the manuscript going to an undisclosed “anonymous buyer”.

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Austen’s Watsons at Auction – July 14th

July 13, 2011 at 5:15 pm (books, news, people) (, , , , )

Have you ever wanted to OWN your own Jane Austen manuscript?

The Watsons, an unfinished Austen manuscript, goes on the block tomorrow at Sotheby’s. Read The Guardian‘s article on the sale here. The Wall Street Journal has a picture of one manuscript page! (And some interesting text.)

Ah, it just kills me to read of the manuscript currently existing in two separate places (NYC’s Morgan museum owns the first 12 pages – sold off by the family-member owner during World War I); and even worse, the notice that some pages disappeared while it was in the custody of the University of London!

But was a FASCINATING thing to read about Austen making her paper into booklets — indeed mirroring a BOOK:

“… the manuscript has 68 pages – hand-trimmed by Austen – which have been split up into 11 booklets. …. Austen took a piece of paper, cut it in two and then folded over each half to make eight-page booklets. Then she would write, small neat handwriting leaving little room for corrections – of which there are many. ‘You can really see the mind at work with all the corrections and revisions,’ said Heaton. At one stage she crosses so much out that she starts a page again and pins it in. It seems, in Austen’s mind, her manuscript had to look like a book.”

I hate to say, looking at the page image: she left a LOT of room for corrections! Quite a neat thing to see.

Sotheby’s is estimating it will sell for £200,000-300,000. How Jane herself would have enjoyed that kind of money!


Read the “catalogue notes & provenance” section – the Morgan paid only a little over £317!

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