The true face of Jane Austen?

05/12/2011 by Katie Allen

An academic has uncovered what is thought to be a new portrait of Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen

The portrait is a long way from the bonneted author of popular imagination—and especially of actress Anne Hathaway who played her on screen—but a scholar is claiming to have discovered a new portrait of Jane Austen.

Austen academic and biographer Dr Paula Byrne believes that the drawing, showing a rather severe Jane in the process of writing, is genuine. She told the Radio Times: "She's a professional woman presenting herself to the world with the tools of her trade. It's the image of Jane Austen so many of us have been waiting for."

“If this really is an authentic portrait of Jane Austen, it has the potential to change our image of her for ever," she said. "Instead of the prim spinster of [sister] Cassandra's unfinished sketch here is a professional writer at the height of her powers."

Byrne will present the portrait to a series of experts including forensics teams, 18th-century costume experts and the editor of Austen's letters to ascertain whether it really is an authentic long-lost portrait of the novelist for a BBC documentary. Three experts will then judge whether the sketch is of the Pride and Prejudice author.

Byrne told the RT: "My immediate reaction was, 'My God, it's Jane Austen!'. "It was the nose that did it," she said.

"Jane Austen: The Unseen Portrait" will be broadcast on BBC2 on 26th December at 9 p.m.


 

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