A SPEICAL exhibition to mark a milestone anniversary of a book written by a world-famous author was launched by a British novelist.

Joanna Trollope declared Emma at 200: from English Village to Global Appeal officially open at a preview event at Chawton House Library yesterday, where invited guests were able to view the display ahead of the general public.

The exhibition, supported by the University of Southampton, marks the 200th anniversary of Emma, one of Jane Austen's most popular novels.

Joanna, who is a patron of Chawton House Library, unveiled a cabinet containing the first French translation and first American editions of Emma, both published in 1816, and said: "Emma has turned out to be so successful as a novel. It's often regarded as one of the first detective novels."

The exhibition celebrates the global nature of the novel, its reception through the centuries and its enduring popularity.

Austen, who spent much of her young life in Basingstoke and Deane, wrote and revised some of her most famous works, including Emma, while living in a cottage in the village of Chawton near Alton, making frequent visits to the neighbouring Chawton House, owned by her brother Edward Knight.

Curator of the exhibition, Dr Gillian Dow, executive director of Chawton House Library and University of Southampton associate professor in English, said: "I don't think anyone would challenge the idea that Emma is world literature now, in 2016. But this exhibition argues it was world literature from the outset, and suggests that we gain a great deal from looking at Emma in its global context from the moment it was published."

She added: "Many people are surprised that England's Jane Austen was published in countries beyond England in her own lifetime - she had no idea, of course, that Emma was in Paris booksellers in 1816. Certainly her popularity accelerated in the 20th and 21st century making Jane Austen the global phenomenon she is today. I am delighted to be organising and hosting this exhibition to help reflect this novel's impact worldwide."

It has been suggested that Donwell Abbey in Emma was modelled on Chawton House and that the book's fictional village of Highbury was based in part on nearby Alton.

Among the items on display in the exhibition is an English first edition of the novel and an original letter from 1850 from Charlotte Bronte giving her critique of Emma.

Emma was the first Austen book to be released by high profile English publisher John Murray (II), and part of the exhibition highlights other women authors published by Murray, including some of his correspondence with them.

Emma at 200 is open at Chawton House Library until September 25.