Which Jane Austen?

About the exhibition

Which Jane Austen? presented Austen as an ambitious and risk-taking businesswoman and a wartime writer who was informed and inspired by the surprising international adventures of her family and relations.

Through a spectacular selection of Austen materials displayed together for the first time, the Bodleian Libraries delved into the myriad influences on this great writer's work.

Highlights of the exhibition:

  • The Watsons, the earliest surviving manuscript of a novel by Jane Austen in the process of development
  • A copy of Volume the First, a collection of short stories, mini-plays, verses and moral fragments that Austen wrote between the ages of 12 and 18.
  • Sanditon, the manuscript-novel left unfinished in the final months of her life, on loan from King's College, Cambridge
  • The logbook kept by Frank Austen as Post-Captain of HMS Canopus, open at his entry describing the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Nelson
  • A ticket of admission to the trial of Warren Hastings, impeached in 1787 on charges of corruption
  • First-edition copies of Austen novels Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Persuasion open at passages relating to war
  • Evidence of her professional dealings with her famous publisher, including a royalty cheque made out to 'Miss Jane Austin', which she counter-signed with the same spelling, showing how important her writing income was to her
  • The household recipe book used in Chawton Cottage by the Austen women
  • Austen's writing desk and her hand-copied music books
  • A wealth of family and professional letters that reveal Jane Austen in her own words
  • A series of edited clips from the earliest to the most recent film and TV adaptations of the novels (presented in collaboration with the BBC)

 The curator

Professor Kathryn Sutherland, world-leading Austen expert at Oxford University

Jane Austen is one of the greatest writers in English literature and this engaging exhibition draws on the Bodleian's rich collection of Austen materials to illuminate the many different sides of this much-loved author.

Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian

Related links

Gifts & books

A gold horizontal flourish


Jane Austen: Writer in the World


Jane Austen: The Chawton Letters


Library Wick Tin Candle - Jane Austen


Jane Austen: Illustrated Quotations


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