Jane Austen manuscript fetches £993,250
Thursday 14 July 2011
The earliest surviving Jane Austen manuscript, a handwritten draft for a book that was never published, sold for £993,250 ($1.6 million) at Sotheby's today.
The manuscript for "The Watsons" was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder for more than three times the top estimate.
Also in the London sale focusing on rare books, the earliest codified rules of soccer, part of the archive of the oldest football club in the world, Sheffield FC, fetched 881,250 pounds.
Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby's senior specialist in the books and manuscript department, said he was delighted with the Austen sale.
"The sale of The Watsons has afforded an extremely broad audience an insight into the author's writing process and reworkings, which this manuscript uniquely displays," he said.
The manuscript comprises 68 pages, arranged in 11 loose gatherings and written in Austen's small hand, peppered with revisions throughout.
Probably written in 1804, it tells the story of Emma Watson, the youngest of four sisters who is raised by a wealthy aunt but then forced to return to her family while two of her sisters search for husbands.
The novel is only a quarter complete but critic Margaret Drabble described it as "a tantalising, delightful and highly accomplished fragment, which must surely have proved the equal of her other six novels, had she finished it".
The Watsons contains themes found in other Austen works and also displays her wit, with lines such as: "Female economy will do a great deal, my Lord, but it cannot turn a small income into a large one."
"The Watsons is quintessential Jane Austen in style and the influence of this novel on her later works can clearly be seen," Heaton said.
It was Austen's only literary work during the period between finishing "Northanger Abbey" in 1799 and starting "Mansfield Park" in 1811.
It is not known why Austen abandoned the manuscript, though it was possibly related to her father's death in 1805. Austen had told her sister Cassandra that the father in the novel, Mr Watson, would die in the course of the story.
The Sheffield soccer sale included handwritten drafts from 1858 and the only existing copy of the printed "Rules, Regulations, & Laws of the Sheffield Foot-Ball Club" dating from 1859, two years after the club was formed.
The rules offer an insight into the evolution of the game and state that pushing or hitting the ball with the hands was permitted, as was pushing other players, though tripping others up was prohibited.
Sheffield pioneered the idea of football as a spectator sport and the idea of inter-club matches with strong rivalries.
"We are delighted with the sale of this extraordinary piece of sporting history, the proceeds of which will allow Sheffield Football Club to develop its facilities and secure its future as the home of grass-roots football," club chairman Richard Tims said in a statement.
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 3 Fight Club 2: Chuck Palahniuk sequel is a 'meta-fictional comment on the cultural response to the original'
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley star in trailer for new Alan Turing film The Imitation Game
Fight Club 2: Chuck Palahniuk sequel is a 'meta-fictional comment on the cultural response to the original'
It looks like Krusty the Clown is the major Simpsons character death
Star Wars 7: Plot details 'leak', with sequel's opening sequence and premise revealed
Panic! At The Disco donate $1000 to gay rights group after Westboro Baptist Church picket
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains