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New Jane Austen family papers made available for public viewing

The good news is that a slate of Jane Austen family books, previously available only to academics, has been digitized and is being offered for viewing by members of the public. The bad news, depending upon your geographic circumstances, is that the material is available by appointment only, and only at the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester, England. (Steventon, Hampshire, is Austen’s birthplace.)

From the BBC:

The “rare and precious” material includes digital copies of eight music books known to have been enjoyed by the author, a manuscript verse book given to her sister Cassandra in 1837, and a notebook containing her niece Caroline’s recollections.

The original copies have also been moved to the records office for “safe-keeping” after previously being held at the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire.

The BBC offers no indication that the material includes corroborating evidence for Lindsay Ashford’s supposition that Austen died as a result of arsenic poisoning.