Jane Austen letter critiquing ‘prosy’ peer expected to fetch Rs 66 lakh at auction | books$ht-picks | Hindustan Times
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Jane Austen letter critiquing ‘prosy’ peer expected to fetch Rs 66 lakh at auction

A letter by Jane Austen to her niece about a “most tiresome and prosy” Gothic novel by her contemporary Rachel Hunter will go under the hammer at a London auction house on July 11.

books Updated: Jul 11, 2017 10:56 IST
In 2011, a handwritten draft for a book that was never published, sold for £993,250 (Rs 8 crore approx) at an auction.
In 2011, a handwritten draft for a book that was never published, sold for £993,250 (Rs 8 crore approx) at an auction. (Shutterstock)

Jane Austen once wrote that a large income was the best recipe for happiness. Now a private letter written by the author to her niece could well make someone very happy indeed.

A letter critiquing a contemporary author for being “prosy” goes under the hammer at a London auction house on Tuesday. The letter is from Austen to Anna Lefroy, the eldest daughter of the author’s eldest brother Reverend James Austen. Auctioneers Sotheby’s expect it to fetch £80,000 (Rs 66 lakh approx) to £100,000.

The subject of the letter is a “most tiresome and prosy” Gothic novel entitled Lady Maclairn, the Victim of Villainy, published by her contemporary Rachel Hunter.

Jane Austen’s home in Chawton, Hampshire, England. (Shutterstock)

“It’s very interesting to have a letter by Jane Austen talking about writing, talking about novels, talking about someone else’s novels because there are not many instances in Jane Austen’s writing where we get that”, said Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s director of books and manuscripts.

The auctioneers said that the letters, dating from 29-30 October 1812 when the Pride and Prejudice author was at her literary peak, had belonged to the Austen family, and had never been offered for sale before.

A measure of the author’s enduring popularity, Austen memorabilia can command spectacular sums. In 2011, the earliest surviving Austen manuscript, a handwritten draft for a book that was never published, sold for £993,250 (Rs 8 crore approx) at an auction. The auction will be held on July 11.

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