Partial Austen manuscript to be auctioned


And now for a real piece of Austen memorabilia: most of the original manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, The Watsons, and the only manuscript still in private hands, will be auctioned at Sotheby’s on July 14.

The novel is considered around a quarter completed and the manuscript has 68 pages – hand-trimmed by Austen – which have been split up into 11 booklets.

It is most but not all of Austen’s unfinished novel. The first 12 pages were sold by an Austen descendent during the first world war to help the Red Cross and are now in New York’s Pierpoint Morgan Library, while the next few pages were inexplicably lost by Queen Mary, University of London which has been looking after the manuscript.


Hopefully some civic-minded and very rich Janeite will step up to purchase this delightful item and then let the rest of us see it once in a while!

2 thoughts on “Partial Austen manuscript to be auctioned

  1. Allison T.

    I can’t believe the estimated price from Sotheby’s: a mere 200,000 to 300,000 pounds. A steal, folks!

    (But perhaps the price is so low because Mr Darcy is not featured in The Watsons.)

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that either the Morgan Library or Sandy Lerner ends up with the ms–either is a win for Janeites. The downside would be if the ms. goes back into private hands……


    • No pressure on Ms. Lerner, but I can’t help thinking that Chawton Library is the perfect place for it. However, I’m not sure they’re set up for ms. archival activities–though they DO have a lot of very very old books, and I don’t know how different archiving a manuscript would be.


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