Hampshire County Council is given the Austen archive

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THE Jane Austen family archives have been put into the care of Hampshire County Council.

Described by the council as ‘incredibly rare and precious’ the material will now be stored in the Hampshire Record Office, in Winchester, for safe keeping.

The trustees of Jane Austen’s House Museum decided the county council was the best place for the important manuscripts to be held.

They include eight music books known to have been enjoyed by the author.

There is also family correspondence, a manuscript verse book given to Jane Austen’s elder sister Cassandra in 1837 and a notebook containing the author’s recollections.

Researchers will now have the opportunity to access digital copies of the Jane Austen archives along with other important Austen family material held at the Record Office.

This includes Jane Austen’s letters, diaries, drawings, photos and volumes of poetry.

Hampshire County Council’s head of culture, Cllr Keith Chapman, said: ‘I am delighted that this partnership will enable Hampshire Record Office to give long-term care to this important material relating to one of our most celebrated historical characters.’

Louise West, curator of Jane Austen’s House Museum added: ‘The partnership between the Museum and Hampshire Record Office is a very fulfilling one.

‘There are benefits to everyone in this new arrangement for the housing of important manuscript material.’