A HAMPSHIRE museum celebrating the life of Jane Austen is displaying two recently acquired items relating to her older brother.

Jane Austen’s House, in Chawton, is displaying the items, which belonged to her brother Admiral Sir Francis William Austen, known to the family as Frank, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Opening on April 24, an exhibition entitled Travels with Frank Austen will showcase these objects for the first time: an unpublished handwritten manuscript biography of Francis Austen and an album of watercolours and drawings from his global travels during his career in the Royal Navy.

Hampshire Chronicle: The unpublished manuscriptThe unpublished manuscript (Image: Jane Austen's House)

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These objects will be on display for the very first time, having never before been seen outside of family ownership.

Francis Austen’s story is linked to his sister Jane’s – he was connected with the domestic lives of the Austen women, living with them in Southampton from 1806-1809 and corresponding with them while away at sea.

Jane used the name of his ship, HMS Elephant, in Mansfield Park, writing to ask if he would object to it being mentioned. A skilled wood turner, he is also thought to have inspired Captain Harville in Persuasion.

Hampshire Chronicle: Pieces from Frank Austen's watercolour albumPieces from Frank Austen's watercolour album (Image: Jane Austen's House)

Francis Austen went to Naval College in Portsmouth at the age of 12 and rose through the ranks. He served against the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic sea forces, and was described by Admiral Nelson as ‘an excellent young man’. He rose to become Admiral of the Fleet and was knighted in 1837.

Both the manuscript biography and the watercolour album were acquired at auction at Bonham’s, Knightsbridge, in June 2023 and were bought by Jane Austen’s House with funding from Friends of the National Libraries.

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Alongside the display, Jane Austen’s House is launching a community project to transcribe the manuscript biography. Audiences across the world are invited to join in the project, contributing to the first full transcription of the manuscript, which will be published online.

More information about the project can be found on the Jane Austen’s House website.

Travels with Frank Austen runs from April 24 to July 7 and is free with house admission. The exhibition will also be available online.