Some of the most difficult books to track down are those published privately by Austen-Leigh family members. These include a lot of publications from Spottiswoode (for background on the firm, see this book). Others are simply seminal Austen offerings. Tonight’s “find” is from Internet Archive: CHAWTON MANOR AND ITS OWNERS. This is one of those books referenced in footnotes, but which you might never otherwise actually see. CHECK IT OUT!!
Today, the Manor is known as Chawton House Library (see the links page for their website); the graves of Cassandra and Mrs Austen are found to the side of St. Nicholas’ Church, just a bit further down the quiet lane that passes the manor house. The photographs in this book may be the only views of the house most of us see; I was in Chawton on a day which was not a Thursday, alas that the only day it was open to the public. (Chawton House Library had also been my work venue of choice, had I gotten JASNA’s IVP nod.) And, written by family, this is a prime source for information about the KNIGHTS who adopted Jane’s brother Edward. The book also includes portraits of Edward which I’ve never seen elsewhere (though the one of his wife Elizabeth is extremely familiar).
A couple other books found at the same site: Personal Aspects of Jane Austen was written by Edward and Emma Austen-Leigh’s daughter, Mary Augusta. Not as ‘valuable’ a book, in my opinion, as her father’s Memoir of Jane Austen, never mind Mary’s own memoir of her father, James-Edward Austen-Leigh, it might find some interest among our Janeites (though not so, according to the handwritten note across the title page!). This other book looks interesting, but I’ve not yet had the chance to read much of it; so tell me whether YOU think it an overlooked early biography, terribly dated, or could never have been very good… It’s from 1920 and is divided into some thought-provoking sections: The Novelist; The Realist; The Woman.
And if it weren’t so late (at the tone the time will be three a.m. BONG!), I’d read a Jane Austen’s Regency World article on Miss Austen Regrets or their article on Rejecting Jane (how she might have fared in today’s publishing world); but that has to wait ’til “morning”… So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen.