Room 2: A brief glimpse into the elegant accomplishments of the child prodigy

Object 3. Farmer Giles & his Wife shewing off their daughter Betty to their Neighbours, on her return from School (James Gillray, 1809)

On loan from the curator’s private collection

click on the image to see close up 🔍 

Jane Austen was born into a family of keen amateur writers. Aged 9 to 10, she attended the Abbey House School in Reading with her sister Cassandra who was three years older. Remembering her school days ten years later, she remarked to Cassandra, ‘I could die of laughter … as they used to say at school’ (in a letter of 1 September 1796).  It would not be long before our prodigy displayed her remarkable talents to a rapturous world, or, at least, a select audience of admiring family and friends.