We are excited to announce the introduction of new display cases here at Chawton House Library. Thanks to the extremely generous support of the Jane Austen Society of North America, the Foyle Foundation, Friends of the Library and the George Cadbury Trust, we have been able to purchase four climate-controlled display cabinets to house some of the treasures of our collection.
The first display cabinet, located in the Dining Room, now houses the silk suit that reportedly belonged to an adolescent Edward, Jane Austen’s brother, who became Edward Knight in 1812. Also on display is his journal documenting his travels through France to Switzerland in July 1786. We are grateful for the support of the Foyle Foundation, and numerous individuals, who helped restore Edward’s suit and pay for this cabinet.
The second new display cabinet, made possible by the ongoing support of the many Friends of the Library, lives in the Great Hall under the watchful eye of Mary Robinson’s ‘Perdita’ portrait. It contains first editions of a collection of Robinson’s poems (1791), her first novel ‘Vancenza, or the Dangers of Credulity’ (1792), and her memoirs (published posthumously in 1801).
The Tapestry Gallery is now home to the third display cabinet, which contains books donated to us by Sandra Clark, Texas, all of which have the name Caroline Austen (Jane Austen’s niece by her elder brother James) inscribed on the front.
One of these books is Stephanie-Felicite de Genlis’s ‘Theatre a l’usage des jeunes personnes’, which contains the inscription “Caroline Austen. The gift of her Aunt Cassandra. Jan 13 1815”. Cassandra was of course Jane Austen’s sister, and the inscription is in her hand. This book is open on a pencil drawing of a dog that may have been sketched by James Edward Austen-Leigh, brother of Caroline, and Jane Austen’s first major biographer. The poems of Burns and Cowper, and Edward Young’s ‘Night Thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality’ are the other three books on display.
We were able to purchase this cabinet due to the ongoing support of the Jane Austen Society of North America.
Our third (and final) new table top display case, situated in the lower reading room, is here thanks to the generous support of the George Cadbury Trust.
Our first display focuses on our book conservation programme (https://chawtonhouse.org/?page_id=58943) which takes place in the reading room where trained volunteers undertake minor repairs on our rare books. The books inside the display case are beyond the capabilities of our volunteers and will be repaired by a professional conservator.