Monday, December 14, 2009

A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy at the Morgan Library and Museum

I was in New York last weekend, and made a visit to the Morgan Library and Museum. I had long been wanting to visit a museum that devoted exhibits to everything from Babar to Puccini, but I was there to see A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy, which runs through mid-March.

The exhibit provides a look into Austen's works and life, and includes letters, manuscripts and drawings. You can see early illustrated editions of all her novels, but the most interesting part is the letters that Austen sent and received — she often wrote cross-hatch (writing across horizontal lines at right angles to save space), and her wit is actively on display.

An examination of Austen's legacy also proves interesting, as Nabokov and Kipling spoke very highly of her. We also see how her legacy extends to the modern day, which is evident from a short video that's part of the exhibit. In The Divine Jane: Reflections on Austen, a handful of writers, actors and intellectuals (like Colm Tóibín) discuss their relationship to Austen's work. You can watch it below.


  1. I am (for obvious reasons) dying to go to this exhibit. I love Jane Austen, but I've never read her letters. Have you? And if yes, can you recommend an edition? Maybe I'll ask for one for Christmas.

  2. I haven't read them either. I guess a lot of them no longer exist, but the first third of her letters are available here:

    The complete letters are in this edition: