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Jane Austen's Long-Lost Music Book Found on Distant Relative's Shelf

By Michael Vincent on July 10, 2023

In an exciting turn of events, a missing music book that once belonged to renowned novelist Jane Austen has been found gathering dust on a distant relative’s shelf.

The book was thought to be lost sometime between 1978 and 1987.

How was it found?

This 200+-year-old treasure was found at the Austen family residence, known as Chawton House where composer Ethel Worsley had grown up. Worsley was the granddaughter of the great niece of Jane Auston, and at some point, gained possession of the music book. The author’s distant relatives likely never guessed they were sitting on a historical jackpot.

Why is the book so significant?

The music book is believed to have been in Jane Austen’s possession during some of her most prolific periods of writing. It contains rare handwritten musical notations by the celebrated author herself, shedding light on her creative pursuits beyond the written word.

The discovery illuminates a lesser-known aspect of Jane Austen’s multifaceted genius, proving that her creativity extended far beyond her written works. By exploring the music she enjoyed, we gain a deeper understanding of the influences that shaped her literary voice.

Here is a head-spinner…

…what is the estimated monetary value? Judging by the recent sale of a first-edition Jane Austen, it could be worth around $481,000 USD.

Zoom out:  The music boom is the literary equivalent of stumbling upon your favourite author’s hidden playlist — connecting us with Austen in a more intimate and musical way. Moreover, this sheds light on the important role of music in the social lives of women in the 18th century, highlighting how music was intertwined with literature.

The historical lottery: Keep an eye on your attics and shelves, who knows what musical history you could be housing?

Michael Vincent
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