RARELY seen artefacts from the life of Jane Austen – including handwritten poems and first editions of her books – have gone on display in Winchester.

Winchester Cathedral, where the writer is buried, is staging the exhibition until September 20. It is the first of a series of events on the approach to the bicentenary of her death in 2017. Austen, who wrote such classics and Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, spent most of her life in Hampshire and she wrote all her novels in the county.

The exhibition, next to her grave, is showing a handwritten poem by Austen about her friend Mrs Lefroy and first editions of Emma in three volumes from 1816 and a set of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion from 1818.

The handwritten note by her brother Henry with the wording of the inscription on her floor slab in the cathedral is also in the exhibition.

The poems and handwritten inscription belong to Winchester College. They have never been seen outside the public school since they were given to it in the 1930s.