Rare Jane Austen manuscript, The Watsons, triples valuation at auction

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14 July 2011
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imports_WRI_0-37qd75j5-100000_56806.jpg Rare Jane Austen manuscript, The Watsons, triples valuation at auction
One of only four surviving Austen manuscripts, her unfinished 1804 novel The Watsons raised £993,250 at Sotheby's ...
One of only four surviving Jane Austen manuscripts tripled its valuation to raise £993,250 at auction at Sotheby's today (14 July).

Austen's unfinished 1804 novel The Watsons was abandoned long before publication of Sense and Sensibility seven years later. The manuscript is valued highly by academics as it is 'very much a working draft', extensively annotated, revised and corrected. The only other known manuscripts surviving are two draft chapters from Persuasion, her early story Lady Susan and the fragment Sandition.

Missing its first ten pages and only 68 pages in length, The Watsons manuscript was estimated at £200,000-£300,000 by London auction house Sotheby's. Six of the opening pages are owned by the Pierpoint Morgan Library, New York. The remainder have been inexplicably lost by Queen Mary College, London.

Sotheby's Senior Special, Books and Manuscripts, Gabriel Heaton, said: 'We are thrilled by the sale of the earliest surviving manuscript for a novel by Jane Austen today. In the weeks before the sale we have been reminded of the remarkably international appeal of Austen, one of Britain’s greatest authors. 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.'
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