Earliest Austen manuscript fetches $1.6 million at auction
The earliest surviving Jane Austen manuscript, a handwritten draft for a book that was never published,...
surviving Jane Austen manuscript, a handwritten draft for a book that
was never published, sold for 993,250 pounds ($1.6 million) at Sotheby's
The manuscript for "The Watsons" was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder for more than three times the top estimate.
in the London sale focussing 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.
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.
manuscript comprises 68 pages, arranged in 11 loose gatherings and
written in Austen's small hand, peppered with revisions throughout.
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.
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
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."
Watsons is quintessential Jane Austen in style and the influence of
this novel on her later works can clearly be seen," Heaton said.
was Austen's only literary work during the period between finishing
"Northanger Abbey" in 1799 and starting "Mansfield Park" in 1811.
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.
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
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.
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.