Jane Austen’s A History of England (by a partial, prejudiced and ignorant historian)

5thAug. × ’08

This was posted at janeaustenfans and it is delicious:

The British Library has started a monumental project: to put a number of the rare books stored in its archives online, so that anyone can virtually thumb through them from the comfort of their home, and without the worry that they’ll get grubby finger smudges or jam on the delicate, highly valuable pages.

So far, around twenty books have been added to the Turning the Pages project, including rare religious texts, Jane Austen’s early work, the first atlas of Europe, Diamond Sutra, printed in China in 868, Lewis Carroll’s original “Alice in Wonderland”, sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, and Mozart’s musical diary.
The Jane Austen work included is her A History of England, written when she was just sixteen. It is copied out in her handwriting, and illustrated with Cassandra Austen’s delicate little watercolor portraits of the kings and queens Jane writes about. It is also screamingly funny. Her entry on Mary I begins:
This woman had the good luck of being advanced to the throne of England, inspite of the superior pretensions, Merit, & Beauty of her Cousins Mary Queen of Scotland & Jane Grey. Nor can I pity the Kingdom for the misfortunes they experienced during her Reign, since they fully deserved them, for having allowed her to succeed her Brother – which was a double peice of folly, since they might have foreseen that as she died without Children, she would be succeeded by that disgrace to humanity, that pest of society, Elizabeth.
The scan is beautiful, and they have reproduced the text in the touch of a button if you have trouble reading the handwriting



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