Austen fans rejoice! Last week, The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City opened a new exhibit featuring more than 100 of Austen’s works. One of the most exceptional pieces is the Lady Susan manuscript – the only surviving complete manuscript of Austen’s. Other pieces include personal letters – including the ones she wrote “cross-hatched” (across the horizontal lines of text at right angles in order to save paper) – and selected drawings and prints depicting people, places and events important to Austen’s life. The exhibit also features illustrated editions of Austen’s novels and an unfinished copy of The Watsons – the “only surviving manuscript of Austen’s novels showing her work in progress and under revision”.
The exhibit explores the legacy Jane Austen left after her early death at the age of 41. It features later writers’ responses to her work – opening with a diary entry by her peer Sir Walter Scott and followed by comments from 20th-century writers such as Yeats and Kipling. Austen’s influence is further examined through a film (below) – “The Divine Jane: Reflections on Austen” – by Italian director Francesco Carrozzini at the conclusion of the exhibition that features interviews with artists and scholars. One highlight of the film is when the interviewees describe the kind of dinner party they would have if Jane Austen were a guest.
The exhibit – A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy – is open through March 14, 2010. Visit the Morgan on a Friday, when admission is free from 7-9 p.m. or check the Morgan’s website for other admission prices and hours. For those of us who first remember being swept away by the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, this collection can’t be missed.
Photo and video courtesy of The Morgan Library and Museum.
- Nat Geo Expeditions