Manuscript book of verse

Object name: Manuscript book of verse given to Cassandra Austen

Object number: CHWJA:JAHB124

Category: Manuscript book

Description: Hand-written book of verse. Inside the front cover is the inscription ‘The Gift of a much valued friend H. A. Rees to Cassandra Austen, Sidmouth, April 20th 1837’.
Made: 1837

Context: The 19th century was a time of great popularity for poetry.  The Romantic Movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries marked a shift from the structured forms of verse that preceded it to one that emphasised nature and emotion. Poetry was very much at the heart of British literary culture in this period.

This hand-written book contains some poetry by well-known writers such as Lord Byron, Robert Burns and Jane Austen‚Äôs favourite poet, William Cowper, but it also contains amateur works. The text is written in a number of different hands, most of which are unknown, but the final poem titled ‘Valedictory Stanzas’ and dated 1845, strongly resembles that of Cassandra‚Äôs niece, Anna Lefroy. It is possible that she inherited the book after Cassandra‚Äôs death in March 1845 and added this poem to the book as a tribute to her much-loved aunt.

Nothing is currently known of Cassandra‚Äôs ‚Äėmuch valued friend‚Äô and, perhaps travelling companion, H.A. Rees.

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