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George Austen’s Bible

March 11, 2012

This year the Museum’s theme is At Home with the Austens, and during this season the Museum will be showcasing items related to Jane Austen’s family, some that have not been exhibited at the Museum before.

One very special item, which has only recently gone on display at the Museum for the first time, is the Bible that was very probably used by Jane Austen’s father, the Reverend George Austen, at Steventon Parish Church, where he was Rector. This is a copy of the Authorised Version of the Bible, sometimes known as the King James Bible, which was completed in 1611. It became the standard version of the Bible that was used in Anglican church services during Jane Austen’s lifetime and beyond.

It is very probable that George Austen would have used this Bible while he was preparing his sermons and also probably in the church services held at St. Nicholas’ church, where of course, Jane Austen was baptized and where she regularly worshipped until the family left to live in Bath in 1801. The name of the church is written in the book, and it is thought that this inscription may be in George Austen’s handwriting.

The Bible is dated 1793, and as you can see, is beautifully bound in leather. It was printed in Edinburgh by the printers, Mark and Charles Kerr. The Kerrs, were the official printers and stationers to King George III in Scotland, and they published a number of Bibles in the late 18th century.

The Bible has been very kindly loaned to the museum by Steventon Parish Church, and we are very grateful to them for their generosity.

The Bible is now on display in the Austen Family Room on the first floor of the Museum and we hope that many of you will enjoy seeing this very important book on your visits this year.

However, if you are unable to visit us, we thought you might enjoy looking at these photographs, which can all be enlarged if you click on them.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2012 1:37 pm

    Are there any handwritten margin comments in the text of the Bible?

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      March 12, 2012 12:34 pm

      No, there is no marginalia in this Bible.

  2. March 11, 2012 2:50 pm

    I wish you could live near you folks! Everyday we have something new to learn about the Autens! 🙂

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      March 12, 2012 12:36 pm

      A wish shared by many Janeites:) We are glad you can share our exhibits and news here, Adriana:)

  3. Cathy Allen permalink
    March 11, 2012 6:10 pm

    I am unable to visit, and am very happy to see the photographs. I’m particularly happy that we can enlarge them to see the details, thank you!

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      March 12, 2012 12:37 pm

      Yes, that’s a really useful function, and does enable you to examine the exquisite detail of the print and the bindings:)

  4. Karen Field permalink
    March 13, 2012 2:02 am

    That was lovely to see. I can imagine that Jane and her brothers and sister were read to often out of that Bible. I know that if there was an emergency like a fire I’d want to grab my Bible and my 6 Jane Austen books!

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      March 15, 2012 1:05 pm

      Yes,I agree Karen, it is a very special Bible with all its Austen associations. For me, my photograph albums would befit in line( plus the cat)I trust my family could shift for themselves 😉

  5. March 17, 2012 5:00 am

    If those pages could talk! Good to see this piece, Julie, no doubt influential in many ways in the Austen household and life.

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