A RARE glimpse into the way Jane Austen worked is now on display at her Hampshire home.

A booklet from The Watsons manuscript, an unfinished novel by Jane Austen, is on display at Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton until December 16.

Apart from two chapters of her final work Persuasion none of the six novels published in Austen’s lifetime, or soon after her death, survives in manuscript form.

The Watsons, which mainly consists of 11 homemade booklets, was bought at auction in July 2011 by the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, for just short of £1 million, with the assistance of many generous funders, including the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), the Friends of the National Libraries, the Friends of the Bodleian, and Jane Austen’s House Museum (Jane Austen Memorial Trust).

The Bodleian, which also houses one of three surviving volumes of handwritten juvenilia, has agreed to lend one of the booklets for this exhibition. It will focus on the particular way Jane Austen prepared her small writing surface, demonstrating her great discipline as a writer. It will also examine the materials and tools she used.

On the few occasions in The Watsons where Jane Austen decided that considerable revis-ion was needed she applied paper patches to the manuscript, fastening them with pins. These inserts were tailored with precision, suggesting she knew how much space was required before she started to write.

A needle-case is included in the display, drawing attention to Austen’s skill as a needle-woman as well as a writer. The Watsons was started then abandoned between 1804 and 1805 when Jane Austen was living in Bath. The story centres on Emma Watson, who was adopted in childhood by a rich uncle and aunt. When Emma’s uncle dies and her aunt remarries, the 19-year-old is left without an inheritance and must return to her birth family, a clergyman father in failing health and three older sisters desperate to marry. Kathryn Sutherland, Professor of English, University of Oxford, and Trustee at Jane Austen’s House Museum, said: “This is a rare opportunity to glimpse Jane Austen at work and her fiction as she created it.”