London, Dec 17 (IANS) If you are a Jane Austen fan, there is more reason to cheer as her music collection has been made freely available to access online as part of a University of Southampton digital library project.
The Austen Family Music Books is a collection of 18 albums of music containing around 600 pieces that belonged to the 19th century writer and her relations.
“Jane Austen’s novels are full of musical scenes, and this collection will help literature scholars and Austen fans to better understand the real musical environment that fed the novelist’s imagination,” professor of music at Southampton Jeanice Brooks, who led the project, said.
“Just as importantly, the collection provides music historians with a unique glimpse of the musical life of an extended gentry family in the years around 1800,” Brooks noted in an official statement.
Austen herself played the piano and sang throughout most of her life. She and her family carefully copied music by hand into personal albums, and collected the sheet music that poured from London presses.
These albums of individually copied or purchased sheet music items, bound together, show the personal tastes of their owners – just as a digital music collection on a mobile phone or MP3 device would today.
In addition to Jane herself, other women in the Austen family, including her sisters-in-law and nieces, all contributed material to the collection.
“We are delighted that this collection can be shared with so many through digital means, and that its availability will benefit researchers and musicians alike,” Diane Bilbey of Jane Austen’s House Museum in England said.
The Austen Family Music Books can be viewed at:https://archive.org/details/austenfamilymusicbooks