A British author is claiming to have unearthed a previously unseen portrait of Pride And Prejudice writer Jane Austen. Dr Paula Byrne, the author of a new book on Austen, was given the portrait by her husband and recognised the long, straight “Austen nose”.
There are currently just two recognised portraits of Austen – one sketched by her sister Cassandra in 1810. Byrne – who has previously written books on poet Mary Robinson and author Evelyn Waugh – was presented with the portrait by her husband, Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate, who had bought it at auction.
The pencil drawing on vellum is inscribed “Miss Jane Austin” on the back. Byrne insists that “apart from the striking family resemblance”, this was the first clue as to the identity of the sitter. It remains a mystery why the picture, which is thought to have been drawn around 1815, has not been authenticated before.