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Jane Austen

Jane Austen (1775–1817)
Autograph manuscript of a brief poem on Captain Foote's marriage to Miss Patten
50 x 115 mm
Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1925; MA 1034.3
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In Austen's time poetry was regarded as a more serious genre than prose fiction. Austen seems to have inherited her poetic talent from her mother, but she did not consider herself to be a serious poet and generally wrote occasional poems for events, such as marriages and births, that were playful, comic, or celebratory. For Austen, reading poetry was a serious pursuit, but her own compositions were a lighthearted pastime for personal and family amusement rather than publication. Eighteen poems by Austen—not all in her hand—survive. It is likely that she wrote many others that were subsequently lost or remain untraced. Although this poem is in Austen's handwriting, it was composed by her uncle James Leigh Perrot. Her final poem was written three days before her death.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.