Jane Austen letter critiquing 'prosy' contemporary at auction

LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - 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 Rev. James Austen. Auctioneers Sotheby's expect it to fetch 80,000 pounds ($103,000) to 100,000 pounds.

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.

13 PHOTOS
Jane Austen -- home, letters and books
See Gallery
Jane Austen -- home, letters and books
Helen Scott, librarian of the Chawton House Library, inspects a manuscript by Jane Austen from the late 18th century at the museum and study centre in Alton near Winchester. The short play entitled "Sir Charles Grandison" is exceptionally rare as no one knows what happened to Austen's manuscripts when she died. One theory is that her sister Cassandra burned them along with her private letters. The play is a 20 minute comedy dramatising scenes from the novel "The History of Sir Charles Grandison" by Samuel Richardson, one of Austen's favourite authors. Paper was expensive and the 52 pages are written neatly, often utilising both sides. It will be on display only for one night when the Chairman of the Jane Austen Society Brian Southam delivers a lecture on the famous writer.
Letter from Jane Austen to Cassandra Austen Letter from Jane Austen to Cassandra Austen (her elder sister). Handwritten manuscript. JA: English novelist, 16 December 1775 � 18 July 1817. CA: Amateur English watercolourist, 9 January 1773 � 22 March 1845. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
Jane Austen's House, Hampshire, England. (Photo by Peter Thompson/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
A first edition of 'Pride and Prejudice' is seen at the Jane Austen House in Chawton, southern England January 24, 2013. The museum is looking forward to the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen's novel 'Pride and Prejudice', on Monday. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: ANNIVERSARY ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)
Jane Austen's House, Hampshire, England. (Photo by Peter Thompson/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Jane Austen's House, Hampshire, England. (Photo by Peter Thompson/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
The portrait of novelist Jane Austen by James Andrews, that will be appear on the new Bank of England ?10 note from 2017, at Sotheby's in central London where it is expected to fetch 150,000 at the auction house's English Literature & History Sale next week.
John Sibbald, 58, a staff member at Edinburgh auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull, with the rare copies of one of the best-loved novels, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, in the English language that he discovered. * The books are being sold by the auctioneers on Tuesday July 8 2003.
The 17th century house in Chawton near Winchester, Hampshire where novelist Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life
Jane Austen's House, Hampshire, England. (Photo by Peter Thompson/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
A first edition of 'Pride and Prejudice' is seen at the Jane Austen House in Chawton, southern England January 24, 2013. The museum is looking forward to the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen's novel 'Pride and Prejudice', on Monday. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: ANNIVERSARY ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)
A first edition of 'Pride and Prejudice' is seen at the Jane Austen House in Chawton, southern England January 24, 2013. The museum is looking forward to the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen's novel 'Pride and Prejudice', on Monday. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: ANNIVERSARY ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"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 $1.6 million at auction.

The auction will be held on July 11th.

(Reporting by Iona Serrapica, writing by Mark Hanrahan Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.