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Bodleian Libraries purchases Austen manuscript for GBP 1m

15th July 2011

An unfinished novel by Jane Austen has fetched almost GBP 1 million at auction, three times its original estimate, after being bought by the Bodleian Libraries of Oxford.

The manuscript for The Watsons was expected to fetch in the region of GBP 300,000 at Sotheby's in London yesterday (July 14th), but was eventually sold for GBP 993,250.

This was largely thanks to a GBP 894,700 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), revealed Bodleian Libraries spokesman Richard Ovenden.

He explained the facility was 'delighted' to have secured such a 'valuable part' of the country's literary heritage, adding that he is glad the manuscript will now reside in Britain, where it was created.

Carole Souter, from the NHMF, added: 'This was an unprecedented opportunity to acquire the only surviving original draft of a novel by one of our greatest and most popular writers.'

The novel, thought to have been written by Austen in 1804 before being abandoned, concerns a young woman returning to her father's household after being raised by a wealthy aunt.

Mr Ovenden said the Bodleian Libraries is hoping to make the manuscript available to the general public by early autumn.

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