The Godmersham Lost Sheep Society Needs Your Help!

The Godmersham Lost Sheep Society (GLOSS) is on the hunt for wayward books out on the lamb that once belonged to Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight and has put out the call for help.


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First, the facts: Edward inherited three estates from his adoptive parents, Thomas and Catherine Knight: Godmersham Park in Kent, Chawton House, and Steventon, both in the English coastal town of Hampshire. A catalogue Edward prepared in 1818 lists over 1250 volumes for Godmersham alone. Jane frequently consulted these books, and to recover them could potentially provide new insight into the Pride and Prejudice author’s research methods and inspiration.


Most of the Godmersham books were sold in the years following Jane and Edward’s death, but the ones that remained were embellished with one of three bookplates inserted by Edward’s grandson, Montagu George Knight.


“Please help us return these books to the fold,” implored GLOSS board member Deb Barnum in a recent posting on the EX-LIBRIS listserv. What should you look for if you think you’ve come across a stray? Montagu Knight commissioned three bookplates from artist Charles Sherborn in 1900. All three bear an image of Saint Peter, referred to in the image as Saint Pierre, and include Knight’s full name and the year of creation. (Photos of the bookplates may be foundĀ here.)


If you happen upon such a volume, GLOSS would very much like to hear about it. The search has already yielded positive results and some books have been donated to Chawton House Library, which does not have funding to make acquisitions but happily accepts verified donations.


Got a tip? Contact Deb Barnum at jasnavermont@gmail.com or (802) 343-2294

sheep image: stock photo public domain

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