The British Arts and Humanities Research Council is promoting a project at Oxford University to digitize the written manuscripts of Jane Austen. This from the web press release:
“Few scholars have examined these manuscripts in close detail, and now anyone with an interest in Austen can read her original hand thanks to a project led by Professor Kathryn Sutherland from the English Faculty of the University of Oxford.
More than 1,100 pages in total, the manuscripts were written throughout Jane Austen’s life, from childhood through to the year of her death. They were held in a single collection until 1845, when, at her sister Cassandra’s death, they were dispersed. The manuscripts remain scattered in museums and private collections around the world.
In collaboration with King’s College London, and with the help of the photographer who shot pictures of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the highest quality images were taken of every page. The images were then transcribed and XML encoded to make them fully searchable – even the punctuation and the order in which Austen wrote can be analysed.
Professor Sutherland is now piloting a transcription tool for schools which will enable them to interact and engage with the manuscripts. They can test their skills in deciphering Austen’s hand and gain insight into how the mind of the writer worked by tracking her writing process.”
If you are interested in Jane Austen or Georgian England, you really own it to yourself to visit the Oxford page and look at the resources linked there.