is unquestionably rare. Original manuscripts of her published novels do not exist, aside from two cancelled chapters of Persuasion in the British Library.
The novel is considered around a quarter completed and the manuscript has 68 pages – hand-trimmed by Austen – which have been split up into 11 booklets.
|Fragment of the Watsons at the Morgan Library|
The Watsons manuscript shows how Austen's other manuscripts must have looked. It also shines an interesting light on how she worked. Austen took a piece of paper, cut it in two and then folded over each half to make eight-page booklets. Then she would write, small neat handwriting leaving little room for corrections – of which there are many. "You can really see the mind at work with all the corrections and revisions," said Heaton.Only this manuscript and a couple of canceled chapters of Persuasion in Jane's hand have survived. They show her creative mind at work.
At one stage she crosses so much out that she starts a page again and pins it in. It seems, in Austen's mind, her manuscript had to look like a book. "Writers often fall into two categories," said [Gabriel] Heaton, [Sotheby's senior specialist in books and manuscripts]. "The ones who fall into a moment of great inspiration and that's it and then you have others who endlessly go back and write and tinker. Austen is clearly of the latter variety. It really is a wonderful, evocative document."