- “In Tom Jones, Henry Fielding plays with being wounded as a metaphor for being in love”. From the preserved letters, Jane talks about Tom Lefroy’s morning coat in a negative fashion, saying that Tom “therefore wears the same coloured clothes, I imagine, which ‘he’ (meaning Tom Jones) did when he was wounded.”
- Six months after Tom left Steventon, Jane went to
with her brother Edward. They spent the first night in Kent Stainesand then continued to , staying in London Cork Street. This is known from the heading of a letter that Jane sent Cassandra during their stay. Tom Lefroy was at this time living in Cork Streetwith his great uncle Benjamin Langlois. “There is no proof that they stayed there but strange coincidence of they did not”. Factors supporting the notion that she stayed with Tom and his uncle in Cork Street:
- Cork Street a very short road (not many houses)
- Benjamin Langlois is the only rate-payer that the Austen’s would have connection with
- No house seems to have originally been a hotel- if this were the case, Jane would have headed the letter sent to Cassandra with the name of the hotel, not simply ‘
- There is a connection between Tom Lefroy and Pride and Prejudice. His favourite book, ‘Tom Jones’, contains the name Bennet. Also Jane called the 4th Bennet daughter Kitty and this is the name of Tom’s fourth sister.
- It is speculated by Spence that Jane did not see herself as Lizzy but she did see Tom Lefroy that way. According to Spence, Jane had previously meddled with gender- Eliza de Feuillide had been the inspiration for Edward Stanley in Catherine (Jane's unpublished juvenilia)
- “Between 27Oct and
17Nov 1798, Jane and Cassandra were separated- Jane was at home in Steventon and Cassandra was with Edward in while his wife, Elizabeth, had her 5th child. The letters in this interval have been destroyed- it was during this time that Jane had learned that Tom Lefroy was again expected at Ashe.” Mrs Lefroy came to see Jane ‘alone’ on 14Nov. She told her that Tom had returned to Godmersham Park and would then soon after go back to London to begin his law career. Ireland
- “Tom had ten surviving brothers and sisters and as the eldest son, he was expected to make the whole family’s fortune.”
- Tom died in 1869 at the age of 93 years. He was asked by one if his nephews if he had been in love with Jane Austen. The reply was that he had but it had been a ‘boyish love’. “Whatever his qualification means, his admission confirms that Jane was not mistaken: Tom Lefroy had been in love with her”.
- The name ‘
’ is in ‘Tom Jones.’ Willoughby
- The name ‘Allen’ in Northanger Abbey is also in ‘Tom Jones.’
- “Even though
in a way belongs to the period of Jane Austen’s life before she met Tom Lefroy, she yet again acknowledges some deep connection between him and her art. It was more that 15 years since she had met and fallen in love with him, and ten years since she had written anything new, but she again gave her sign that she had not forgotten him: Tom Bertram’s friends the ‘Andersons’ take their name from a family in ‘Tom Jones’.” Mansfield Park
I personally think that there are two main things that highlight to me the truth in their love. Firstly, that she didn’t write for a period of ten years after she met him and he broke her heart. I know that she had other factors influencing her, e.g. the move to bath and the death of her father, but this must have influenced her decision to stop writing. Secondly, the themes of lost love and second chances in Persuasion. I think that this novel displays her true feelings regarding Tom Lefroy.
Pic1: Cover to 'History of Tom Jones' by Henry Fielding
Pic 2: Jon Spence, author of 'Becoming Jane Austen' (2003)