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Monday, March 15, 2010

Jane Austen Lives in NYC

This weekend was the last chance one had to visit the remaining letters and associated ephemera relating to Jane Austen at the Morgan Library here in NYC, titled “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy”.  I did get a chance to view the exhibit.  It was spectacular, giving “Janeites” the opportunity to read the only surviving manuscripts, Lady Susan and The Watsons, and personal letters to her sister, Cassandra.  These are items the Morgan has not exhibited in over twenty-five years.  The exhibition was construed into three themes: her personal life and letters, her works including their monetary and inspirational details, and her legacy with a film video made expressly for the exhibition.  The exhibition also draws from the Morgan’s collection of James Gillray prints and other contemporary sources regarding fashion and manners in both country and city life during the neoclassical period in England.  First and early editions of her novels were also displayed along with original illustrations by American artist, Isabel Bishop. 

Writers who influenced Austen were discussed,  including Frances Burney, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Maria Edgeworth and Sir Walter Scott. 

This exhibition gave the visitor a rare opportunity to have tangible insight into the personal world of a truly great author who, two centuries ago, depicted female life in the neoclassical period on a parallel plane with women today and tomorrow.  I hope you didn’t miss it, but if you did, be sure to check it out on line at themorgan.org, listen to the curator and watch the accompanying film.  Enjoy!