A few weeks ago I made a visit to Devon, the South West of England. On my trip I went to a National Trust Georgian property called Saltram House. I was surprised to find out that The Countess of Morley, Frances Talbot (1782 - 1857) wrote to Jane Austen from Saltram House on 27th December 1815.
Jane Austen later replied on 31st December of the same year; at this time she would have been living in Chawton cottage, around 18 months before she died.
I have attached a copy of the photograph I took of their letter exchange but I will write it more clearly below.
From Frances to Jane:
I have been most anxiously waiting for an introduction to 'Emma' and am infinitely obliged to you for your kind recollection of me, which will procure me the pleasure of her acquaintance some days sooner than I should otherwise have had it. I am already become intimate with the Woodhouse family, and feel that they will not amuse me or interest me less than the Bennetts, Bertrams, Norrises, and all their admirable predecessors.
I can give them no higher praise.
I am, Madam, your much obliged
From Jane to Frances in response:
Accept my thanks for the honour of your note, and for your kind disposition in favour of 'Emma.' In my present state of doubt as to her reception in the world, it is particularly gratifying to me to receive so early an assurance of your Ladyship's approbation. It encourages me to depend on the same share of general good opinion which 'Emma's' predecessors have experienced and to believe that I have not yet, as almost every writer of fancy does sooner or later, overwritten myself.
I am, Madam, your obliged and faithful servt.
I was so excited when I saw this displayed in one of the rooms. I think it tells us so much about Jane's humble nature. I just love how they both comfortably refer to Emma as a real character, which of course all of us can relate to.
Pic: Jane Austen's World, the Austen family by Jane Odiwe