Posted on January 23, 2019 at 12:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Distant relatives of Jane Austen are saying they have new proof that a portrait passed down through the ages indeed depicts the writer as a teenager.

The Rice family, descended from one of Austen’s brothers, told the Guardian that they’ve discovered a note that definitively states the portrait is of the fifteen-year-old Austen.

While the note is unsigned, the Rices believe that a handwriting analysis supports their theory that Austen’s great-niece wrote it.

The great-niece, Fanny Caroline Lefroy, was born a few years after Austen’s death, but her mother knew Austen (her aunt) quite well.

Experts have previously expressed skepticism that the portrait is of Austen, though the National Portrait Gallery in England has issued a new statement based on the latest development, saying, “We will add this and any new evidence provided to the live research file which is maintained on the portrait.”

The only confirmed images of Austen are sketches done by her sister, so if the Rice portrait is indeed her, it would be the only professional likeness of her.

Read more in the Guardian.

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