Rev Austen’s Bookcase

Object name: Rev. George Austen’s Bookcase

Object number: CHWJA:JAH5

Category: Letters

Description: A mahogany bureau bookcase made by George Hepplewhite. The top consists of a moulded and dentil cornice above a pair of geometric astragal glazed doors enclosing shelves. Beneath this the fall encloses an interior of short drawers and arched pigeon holes around a rosewood banded cupboard door. Below this are four long graduated long drawers, over a waved apron on outswept bracket feet.

Made: 1780s

Context: This bookcase belonged to Jane’s father, Reverend George Austen, when the family lived in Steventon Rectory. He is known to have had an impressive library, some of which may have been accommodated in this bookcase.

Rev Austen was the Rector of Steventon, and he probably composed his sermons here, wrote letters to his friends and acquaintances, and prepared lessons for his pupils and his own children, including Cassandra and Jane.

When Jane and her family moved to Bath in 1801, the desk remained at Steventon Rectory and when the building was pulled down in the mid-1800s it found its way to Steventon Manor. It remained there until 1950 when it was sold at auction. It was bought by the Jane Austen Society and given to Jane Austen’s House.