There are Jane Austen fans and Jane Austen fans. Enough die-hards fall into the latter category to fuel a lively trade in Austen-themed knickknacks, costumes and accessories -- but it's unlikely that many Jane-lovers will be able to trump Thursday's major Austen acquisition.
Sotheby's has sold a partial manuscript of Austen's unfinished 1804 work "The Watsons" in London for $1.6 million. The AP says the auction house has confirmed that "it is the only major manuscript by the author still in private hands" -- but the name of the buyer (person or institution) hasn't been made public. (The rest of the "Watsons" manuscript, which resides at the Morgan Library in New York, can be seen here.)
Heartfelt though their feelings for the late English prose-smith might be, few run-of-the mill fans can afford to splurge on an original manuscript (not that they'll get many opportunities). Here are some more modest -- and, in certain cases, eccentric -- options:
- Complete works of Jane Austen (e-book) [Barnes & Noble, $0.99]
- Jane Austen action figure [Archie McPhee, $8.95]
- "Jane Austen is my co-pilot" license plate frame [The Meryton Assembly shop on CafePress, $10.49]
- "I Love Darcy" gift set (Warning: "actual Mr. Darcy is not included") [Jane Austen Centre, $13.77]
- Baby "romper" printed with Mr. Darcy's proposal [Jane Austen Centre, $38.88]
- The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen (6 vols) [Barnes & Noble, $159.25]
- Handmade Regency-style wedding dress ("Stand out from the crowd at the Jane Austen Festival") [Jane Austen Centre, from $3,240]
UPDATE: The "Watsons" manuscript was acquired by Oxford University's Bodleian Library.