Saturday, 30 June 2007

Cadell, ‘First Impression’ and Tom Lefroy

According to the Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen and A Memoir of Jane Austen (Austen-Leigh 1871), on November 1st 1797 Mr. Austen wrote to publisher Thomas Cadell regarding the publication of Jane Austen’s earlier version of Pride & Prejudice (i.e. First Impression); the offer was rejected via post. Later, Jane revised First Impression into Pride & Prejudice and published it under different publisher in 1813.

Now, let’s jump seventy two years ahead as Caroline Austen (Jane's niece) wrote a letter to James Edward Austen Leigh (JEAL) regarding JEAL’s attempt to write the ‘Memoir of Jane Austen’. This is the excerpt of Caroline’s letter I quoted from the Memoir (Austen-Leigh 1871, p. 185):

'April 1st [1869?]

My dear Edward

I have lost no time in getting ready all the helps I have to offer for our Aunt’s ‘Life’ – I wish they were more. Memory is treacherous, but I cannot be mistaken in saying that Sense and Sensibility was first written in letters - & so read to her family. Northanger Abbey, under a different name I believe, was the first actually prepared for publication & was sold for (I think 20£) to a publisher – who declared that he had lost the copy – refused to have the loss supplied, and was contented to remain minus his 20£. Afterwards the copyright was purchased back again and it was left, as you know ready for publication at the time of her death – I enclose a copy of Mr. Austen’s letter to Cadell – I do not know which novel he would have sent – The letter does not do much credit to the tact or courtesy of our good Grandfather for Cadell was a great man in his day, and it is not surprising that he should have refused the favour so offered from an unknown – but the circumstance may be worth noting, especially as we have so few incidents to produce. At a sale of Cadell’s papers &c Tom Lefroy picked up the original letter – and Jemima copied it for me –' [bolded sentence by Icha]

Now, let’s focus on the last sentence. ‘Jemima’ was Anna Jemima Lefroy, Anna Lefroy’s eldest daughter who married Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy (TEPL, nephew to the old Tom Lefroy). TEPL would then supply JEAL with the famous letter 16 August 1869 regarding the old Tom Lefroy’s ‘confession’ about his feelings towards Jane Austen. Anna Lefroy (nee Austen), by the way, was Jane Austen’s niece who married Benjamin Lefroy, Tom Lefroy’s cousin from Ashe. Clear as crystal.

Oxford editor Kathryn Sutherland explained that TEPL was the ‘Tom Lefroy’ Caroline mentioned in her letter. TEPL purchased the original letter of Cadell’s refusal and later let Jemima, his wife, copy the letter for Caroline's reference. I think Sutherland was correct, for later in the same letter Caroline Austen used another term to describe the old Tom Lefroy, i.e. ‘the still living ‘Chief Justice’’ (not quoted here).

But what made TEPL obtain Cadell’s letter? Did he go through such efforts to collect and sort Cadell’s papers to find the particular reference to Jane Austen upon Caroline Austen's request? Or … (this is where my ‘Romance of the Forest’ emerge), because he wanted to know more of the woman his uncle (the original Tom Lefroy) used to love, for by then he definitely had learned of the old Tom Lefroy’s ‘boyish love’ towards Jane Austen from the horse’s mouth. The last idea was more tempting to ruminate on a Saturday night, eh?


Austen-Leigh, J. E. 1871, A Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections (2002 Oxford edition), Oxford World's Classics, Oxford.

PS 1 July 2007:
I forgot that there was another Tom Lefroy after the original Thomas Langlois Lefroy. The second Tom Lefroy was Thomas Paul Lefroy, Tom Lefroy’s son who wrote the Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy in 1871. Just FYI, and I don’t think this was the Tom Lefroy in Caroline’s letter.

Pic 1: Cover to 'Memoir of Jane Austen' by James Edward Austen-Leigh
Pic 2: Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) and Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy) in 'Becoming Jane'

Friday, 29 June 2007

Steventon Rectory

Steventon Rectory was the house where Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 and stayed there until 1801 as the family moved to Bath. Alas to all Austenites, the Rectory was pulled down in 1824, leaving only a pump in a green field as the silent witness of Austen's time. The picture above was possibly drawn by Anna Lefroy (nee Anna Austen), Jane's niece who married Ben Lefroy (Tom Lefroy's cousin). There is another sketch of the Rectory by Anna Lefroy I found in Tomalin's book, but I have not scanned it. I will post it later on. By the way, below is Anna's sketch of the back of the Steventon Rectory. Both pictures are taken from Linda R. Walker's article in Persuasion Online.

Now, Foxygissy405 in the Becoming Jane IMDB message board pointed out that the Steventon Rectory in Becoming Jane looked similar to Morland's house in the 2007 ITV Northanger Abbey. Well, both films were shot in Dublin (Ireland) anyway, and the municipality of Dublin for Becoming Jane, so it could be true. Let's take a look:

The picture above and the right one (from showed partial details of the house used for Steventon Rectory. I have difficulties in finding a complete shot of the Steventon Rectory in Becoming Jane, but I daresay that the house Julian Jarrold &c found in Ireland was so similar to Anna Lefroy's sketches.

Now look at this one:

It's the house of the Morlands (Catherine's family) in Northanger Abbey, also shot in Ireland. Look at the crooked branch of the tree and the swing. Well, BJ did not have the green clinging plants, but it can be planted. And the cobbled pathway in front of the manor can be covered with grass. So... voila! Jane's house became Catherine's house.

One flaw though. ITV NA and BJ were shot around the same time in the late 2006, so it was very unlikely for them to use the same site. I will check it out later; it's an interesting stuff to entertain. Thanks to Foxygrissy for the hint.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Letter 16 August 1870

Well, this is not Jane Austen's letter at all, but it is Jane-related as well. Excerpt of this letter was originally posted in this blog in the History of Tom Lefroy, but in case not everyone bother to read the long post, or also have read it and don't want to read it again, here's the complete letter from Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy (TEPL - Tom Lefroy's nephew) to James Edward Austen Leigh (JEAL - Jane Austen's nephew). Walker (2007) once acknowledged that the two families of Austen and Lefroy actually kept in contact for a long time, and this letter was one of the example. The letter was taken from page 58 of R.W. Chapman's Jane Austen: Facts and Problems (1948, reprinted in 1949, which I just borrowed from the library):

‘You have already given in a few sentences the chief part of what my late venerable uncle told me. He did not state in what her fascination consisted, but he said in so many words that he was in love with her, although he qualifies his confession by saying it was boyish love. As this occurred in a friendly and private conversation, I feel some doubt whether I ought to make it public.'

The letter, written a year after Tom Lefroy's death in 1869, was a reply from JEAL's inquiry about the old Mr. Lefroy's possible connection to the late Jane Austen, for JEAL was in the middle of writing the Memoir of Jane Austen. IMO, the letter explained a lot that Tom Lefroy was indeed in love with Jane Austen; only he was either too responsible or not rascal enough to break the rules of the 18th century. Nonetheless, JEAL respected TEPL’s discomfort in disclosing the information, and hence only stated in the Memoir that ‘these two bright young persons were, for a short time, intimately acquainted’.

Subtle. But for the benefit of Jane/Tom fans, somehow the letter 16 Aug 1870 was found and made public. And I thank The Force for that.


Chapman, R. W. 1949, Jane Austen: Facts and Problems, Oxford University Press, reprint from 1948, Oxford.

Walker, L. R. 2007, 'Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy: Stories', Persuasions On-line, vol. 27, no. 1.

PS 27 August 2007:

In the light of my latest post (Jane/Tom timeline), I originally thought that I made a mistake in writing the year of TEPL's letter (I thought it should be 1869, instead of 1870). However, after double-checking with Chapman's 1949 book, I realised that the letter was indeed dated 1870. Hence, the Tom Lefroy reference should not be found in the first edition of A Memoir of Jane Austen, which was published on December 16th, 1869. Or if it did, it would be of a rather different tone.

Pic: James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy (Jane Austen's Regency World, March/April 2007)

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Emma Summary

Emma was written between January 1814 and March 1815. Emma Woodhouse is the imperfect, yet rather charismatic heroine of this novel.

Throughout the novel she dedicates her time to attempt matchmaking her friend, Harriet, even with firm discouragement from her good friend Mr Knightley. This serves to reveal how na├»ve and snobbish Emma is in her view of romance. She is very content in her life; she is pretty, intelligent and financially stable, consequently not perceiving any need for love. She has no mother and her father does not try to curb any of her behaviour’s; the only criticism she ever receives is from Mr Knightley. Over the span of the novel Emma’s attitudes change and she becomes less spoilt and softens to be more compassionate and aware of her social position and developing ability for kindness and love.

The novel begins with Emma and her father joining the wedding celebrations of Emma’s, governess, Miss Taylor, to Mr Weston. At the wedding Emma introduces herself to Harriet and here the matchmaking begins; she makes Harriet both a friend and a cause when she tries to pair her with the vicar, Mr Elton.

Emma paints a picture of Harriet under the view of Mr Elton and upon seeing it complete, he offers to have the picture framed which Emma believes is an indication of his feelings for Harriet. When Harriet receives a proposal from another man, Emma interferes and advises her to refuse him. Mr Knightley discovers this and lectures Emma for manipulating Harriet.
Upon leaving a party hosted by Mr and Mrs Weston, Mr Elton proposes to Emma, utterly shocking and alarming her. She realizes that his high opinion of the painting of Harriet was actually due to regard for the artist.

Emma and Harriet visit Miss Bates who has her niece saying with her, the beautiful Jane Fairfax. Emma is instantly envious of Jane. A few days later, Emma meets the son of Mr Weston, Frank Churchill, and finds him charming and fascinating. This is in bold contrast to Mr Knightley’s view of him. Frank reveals to Emma his suspicions that Jane Fairfax is having an affair with a married man.

At a ball, Frank dances with Emma and Mr Knightley dances with Harriet, yet Emma can only view Frank as a potential suitor for Harriet. News travels that Frank’s rich aunt has died, making him the heir to her fortune. Mrs Weston tells Emma that Frank is engaged to Jane. Emma tells Harriet, assuming that she may be upset but Harriet informs her that she is not as she has developed feelings for Mr Knightley; this instantly makes Emma jealous and she realises that she in fact loves Mr Knightley.

Emma and Mr Knightley have a confused conversation, both assuming that their love for each other is not returned, until he openly declares his love for her. Emma seeks Harriet to tell her the news and finds that Harriet is also recently engaged and very happy.

There have been a number of adaptations of Emma onto the big screen and 1996 saw the two more recent productions. For TV, Andrew Davies provided the script and the title role went to Kate Beckinsale. Based on a central theme of Emma being about how we can misjudge people based on appearance, Andrew Davies used this notion to create many witty scenes with numerous sequences of cross-purposes between characters. The same year, Douglas McGrath directed the highly acclaimed film starring Gwyneth Paltrow.

Pic 1: Jane Austen's Emma cover by Margaret Drabble
Pic 2: Emma by C.E. Brock (1908). Found on the Pemberley website
Pic 3: Dvd cover of Emma (1996), directed by Douglas McGrath
Pic4: Dvd cover of Emma (1996), screen play written by Andrew Davies.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Male-Voices Reviews: Jane/Tom and Persuasion

Dear BJ lovers,

Following the post about Radovici below, Lindafern from the Potter/Dregston message board directed me to this beautiful review from the late Prof. 'Ashton Dennis' (the name is a pseudoname) about Jane Austen's works, particularly the Tom Lefroy-related Persuasion. And it's an honour to me that Linda let me cite an excerpt from Ashton' e-essay here. Visit the Persuasion summary and comments in this blog for more insights into Persuasion. Visit the Loiterer for overall read of Ashton Dennis' review; the excerpt is quoted here:


O.K., so why didn't Jane Austen marry? I don't know, but I think about that question a lot. She seems so completely heterosexual to me that there can be no simple explanation. Let me examine two possibilities with you.

My other explanation—my more strongly held—is an opinion shared by some others, but one that is far from universally accepted. I strongly suspect that Persuasion is slightly autobiographical and the name of the Captain Wentworth in Jane Austen's own life is Tom Lefroy, and the name of the Lady Russell in Jane Austen's own life is Tom Lefroy's aunt, Madam Lefroy. That story begins in Jane Austen's nineteenth year when Tom Lefroy was in the neighborhood to visit his aunt and uncle. Madam Lefroy was a woman of grace and education and someone who fully recognized the talents of young Jane very early on. This led to a very firm admiration and attachment on Jane's part. The nephew had just taken his first degree at an Irish university and was on his way to London to study the law in preparation for the career that his family had mapped out for him. In my humble opinion, Jane was in love with him, although I readily admit that one must read between the lines of her letters from that period in order to come to that conclusion. I also believe that Tom returned that love but the time wasn't right; there would not have been enough money and his family was depending upon the development of his career to pull the rest of them up with him. The Lefroy family became alarmed at the growing attachment and he was sent away and never invited back again. There was a similar disapprobation in the Austen family—sister Cassandra went so far as to scold Jane (Cassandra always was a bit of a proto-Victorian). As it turned out, Tom had every bit of the talent that his family claimed for him and he had a very successful career, at one point rising to the title of Chief Justice of Ireland.

Jane Austen was dying when she wrote Persuasion, her last completed novel. She was dying prematurely and she knew it. This certainly might have been a time when Jane Austen would feel like making a statement. (In fact, I believe— this is kind of crazy—I believe Jane Austen makes a cameo appearance in Persuasion—you know, the sort of thing Alfred Hitchcock would do.) If you inform yourself about the Lefroy affair, the novel will take on a whole new meaning for you. And if you inform yourself about Addison's disease, the sight of Mrs. Smith will grab your heart; but, that will be nothing compared to your reaction to Anne Elliot's speech about the constancy of a woman's love "after all hope is gone".

Pic: DVD Cover to the 1995 Sony/BBC adaptation of Persuasion, starring Amanda Root (Anne Elliot) and Ciaran Hinds (Capt. Wentworth)

Monday, 25 June 2007

Finding Radovici's 'A Youthful Love'

A few years before Claire Tomalin's Jane Austen: A Life (2000) and Jon Spence's Becoming Jane Austen (2003), another writer has actually written a book focusing on the love story between Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy. The writer was Nadia Radovici (I'm not sure if Nadia Nahmias-Radovici and Nadia Radovici is the same person), and she wrote A Youthful Love: Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy, which was published in 1995.

Alas, the book is currently unavailable in any Amazon sites, nor in any online bookstores. Believe me, I've looked; but I am so glad if I am proven wrong. The book might be available in several libraries (not in my library), and hence can be obtained there, or at least using inter-library loan facility. Lindafern of the Potter message board had read that, had been very impressed, and wrote it in a specific thread. This is the excerpt of her opinion:


Nadia's book is a treasure. Why have we not heard of it before, especially since it has been out since 1995? You may call it speculation, her opinion, whatever, but her 'evidence' has convinced this realistic/romantic dreamer as to the events of the 'affair'. It is a heartbreaking love story. You really need to read it for yourselves. The only problem is that the book is hard to find. I have not found one book to buy. The one I have in hand came from the Goucher College Library in Maryland via our interlibrary loan system. Why is it that the most important works do not get printed and distributed properly, meaning in abundance?
I had only suspected such a deep love, but now I am convinced of it. Nadia may have touched on this fact, but I believe that Jane and Tom were what we today call 'soul mates' in that what has been overlooked, barely mentioned, glossed over, whathaveyou, is their intelligent, educated, genius minds. Somehow Jane Austen's mind is (what is the word?) not considered to be 'developed' when she was just a teenager - see, there I go, "just" a teenager. Remembering back many years to my teenage era, I know how much I knew, and I believe that she was a lot more learned than I was at that time of my life. I have yet the pleasure of reading her 'Juvenilia' (see there it is again, the degradation of her mind at an early age by using that word) but I will now look at it with an eye for her intelligence at that time of her life.


By the way, Radovici's book was quoted by Linda R. Walker in her online paper Jane Austen & Tom Lefroy: A Love Story. Interesting paper, you guys should read it.

Now, of course this is a well-nigh impossible plea to fulfill, but if you guys every find Radovici's book, please drop a review. I shall do so myself if ever I get the book on my hand.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Anne Hathaway singing!

Well, this is not BJ-related, as in this clip is from the Phantom of the Opera, but with the soundtrack from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Woman in White. BUT, the singer was Anne Hathaway (!). Apparently, Anne once played as Laura Fairlie in the Woman in White musical in Sydmonton Festival in 2003. What an accomplished actress she is, eh?

Oh, by the way, apparently Anne also auditioned for the part of Christine Daae in the 2004 Phantom of the Opera. She almost got the role, but conflicted with her schedule for 'Princess Diary II: Royal Engagement'. A pity that she didn't get this Phantom...

The song also made me wish that we have another Becoming Jane music video with If I could only dream this world away as the soundtrack. So, appealing to any YouTubers, hopefully we'll be treated with another BJ video with Anne's angelic voice. Why oh why she did not sing in Becoming Jane, we might not know the answer...

Thanks to Annefleur for her article, thus I learned of this wonderful YouTube video. The video was made by Jiujiu85, and I thank her to introduce me to the beautiful song as well. A pity that the song is not readily available in CDs though. The original If I could only dream this world away in Woman in White CD was not sung by Anne Hathaway.

Update 26 June 2007:
Jiujiu85 has provided me the song and Josie will make a new BJ music video with Anne Hathaway's If I could only dream this world away. I almost can't wait! Thanks a lot Jiujiu and Josie!

The History of Tom Lefroy

Okay, okay, I stole the title from Henry Fielding’s ‘History of Tom Jones, the Foundling’. A bit too thick a book with old style English to read, but that was one of the favourite books of Thomas Langlois ‘Tom’ Lefroy, the leading character in Becoming Jane, whom I talk about in this post.

Upon looking at the painting of Tom Lefroy in this blog, a friend of mine commented that Tom had a ‘James Dean rebellious look’ in his eyes and countenance. He was indeed, and his rebellion and vivacity had, or at least once, won the heart of Jane Austen. But who was this young man with fair hair and piercing blue eyes?

Most of our knowledge on Tom Lefroy came from the Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy, written by his son (whose name was also Thomas Lefroy) in 1871. Thomas Langlois Lefroy, the eldest son of Colonel Anthony Peter Lefroy of Limerick and Anne Gardiner, was born on January 8th 1776, less than a month after Jane Austen was born on December 16 1775. Tom Lefroy was the first son of the family; his parents had a total ten children (Tom was actually the sixth child with his five older sisters and his four younger brothers).

The Lefroy family was actually the descendants of the French Huguenots Lefroys that migrated to England in the 16th century (hence the name that sounds French). Tom's family lived in Ireland, where Tom would enroll in Trinity College of the University of Dublin in 1790 at the age of fourteen. Being a smart student, Tom was sponsored by his great uncle Benjamin Langlois to move to London in 1793 and study law at Lincoln’s Inn. Apparently, Tom excelled in school, inviting a very good comment from the Trinity college tutor Dr. H. Burrowe, later the Dean of Cork, in his letter to Mr. Lefroy on 21 April 1795. Below is Burrowe’s comments as quoted in Ray (2006):

'For his great success in College, I claim no credit. It was entirely the effect of his own talents and judicious diligence. It must be highly pleasing to you to hear that, within my memory, no young man has left our College with a higher character –None so much respected by all the Fellows.../ Of his conduct in London, however seducing its idleness and its evils, you need not have the slightest doubt. He is, in his religious principles, in his desire of knowledge, and his just ambition, fortified in every way.'

Back in December 1792, Benjamin Langlois also praised Tom as someone who ‘has everything in his temper and character that can conciliate affection. A good heart, a good mind, good sense, and as little to correct in him as I ever saw in one of his age’ (Ray 2006). This is of course a contrasting image of the Tom Lefroy we know in Becoming Jane, so I could either assume that: (1) the movie had a serious discrepancy with the real Tom Lefroy, or (2) Tom Lefroy had another side of him; a side that was not that goody-goody in comparison with the side his uncle and tutors knew about him. And this rather ‘bad’ side of him was the one that attracted Jane Austen. And I tend to go with the second option.

Why do I say that? Let’s go back to Jane’s letter to Cassandra on January 9 1796:

'You scold me so much in the nice long letter which I have this moment received from you, that I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together. I can expose myself however, only once more, because he leaves the country soon after next Friday, on which day we are to have a dance at Ashe after all. He is a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man, I assure you. But as to our having ever met, except at the three last balls, I cannot say much; for he is so excessively laughed at about me at Ashe, that he is ashamed of coming to Steventon, and ran away when we called on Mrs. Lefroy a few days ago.'

And this, also on the same day:

'After I had written the above, we received a visit from Mr. Tom Lefroy and his cousin George. The latter is really very well-behaved now; and as for the other, he has but one fault, which time will, I trust, entirely remove -- it is that his morning coat is a great deal too light. He is a very great admirer of Tom Jones, and therefore wears the same coloured clothes, I imagine, which he did when he was wounded.'

Now, honestly, from Jane’s words, I don’t see this Tom Lefroy (whose younger picture indeed showed a rebellious look) as the goody-goody flawless Tom Lefroy that Benjamin Langlois and Dr. Burrowe praised so much. Okay, I do believe that Tom was a very smart guy, and was truly entitled for the role of Chief Justice of Ireland later in his life. But I also believe that this Tom had another side in him, another ‘rather dark’ facet that allowed him to like the rather rebellious and sensual ‘History of Tom Jones’, a book which he discussed rather in details with Jane Austen.

Okay, enough interpretation on Tom’s character. It is possible that he had the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides, and Jane Austen saw, and was interested in, both sides. Sadly to Jane/Tom fans, the romance failed. As Tom came from a poor family with many children, it was important that Tom married well, and the 'mediocre' Jane Austen was definitely out of the question. In mid January 1796, Tom returned to London, possibly ‘encouraged’ by Mrs. Anne Lefroy. Jon Spence (2003) speculated (and I believe in his theory) that Jane actually went to see Tom/Benjamin Langlois later in August 1796 (see Letter from Cork Street), and that Mrs. Lefroy might try to make it up to the couple by introducing Jane to the Judge, but apparently the meeting was unsuccessful.

In December 1797, however, the Lefroys brought ‘a young nephew’ to dinner with the Chute family in Hampshire, at the point when Jane was returning from Bath (Tomalin 2000). We will never know (unless other secret documents appear) if Jane did meet Tom again then, but by that time Tom might already been called to serve in the Irish bar. Anyway, in November 1798 we know that Tom had or was in the process of departing to Ireland for that purpose (see JA's letter on November 17, 1798), and thus ended the known story of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy.

Well, that, unless we considered Tom Lefroy’s ‘confession’ to nephew Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy (TEPL). On August 16 1869, TEPL wrote to James Edward Austen-Leigh (JEAL) a letter with the excerpt below:

‘You have already given in a few sentences the chief part of what my late venerable uncle told me. He did not state in what her fascination consisted, but he said in so many words that he was in love with her [Jane], although he qualifies his confession by saying it was boyish love. As this occurred in a friendly and private conversation, I feel some doubt whether I ought to make it public.(quoted in Chapman 1949, p. 58)

The letter was a response to JEAL’s letter, asking about the commonly known love history between TEPL’s uncle (Tom Lefroy) and JEAL’s aunt (Jane Austen). Well, Mr. Lefroy, this is a biased opinion, but I say that I should indeed thank you for disclosing the information to JEAL. Very precious information indeed.

Anyway, back to Tom Lefroy’s history. According to Wikipedia, after his failed romance with Jane Austen, Tom married Mary Paul in 1799 and had seven children from her. Being the smart guy he was, he made a successful career in Dublin, including a Member of Parliament (MP) of Ireland. In 1829 he made a controversial move of opposing the Bill to give Irish Catholics the vote. I’m not sure if Jane would agree to his move, though, but she had passed away beforehand, thus could not scold Tom for his impertinence.

Tom Lefroy’s career shone like a shooting star. According to Wikipedia, in 1830 he was elected to the House of Commons for the Dublin University seat (his eldest son Anthony Lefroy would later follow his lead to become an MP). Tom became a member of the Privy Council of Ireland in 1835. He continued to represent the University until he was appointed an Irish judge (as the ‘Baron of the Exchequer’) in 1841. In 1852, Tom Lefroy was appointed as Chief Justice and served until July 1866 when he was already 90.

Thomas Langlois Lefroy died three years later on May 4th 1869, leaving his seven children (his wife Mary Paul had died eleven years earlier in 1858). Interestingly, his first daughter was named ‘Jane’, a fact which was explored very well in the closing scene of Becoming Jane. From her analysis of the Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy, Ray (2006) believed that Tom Lefroy’s letters during his time as an older man showed affections towards his wife. Walker (2007) also speculated that the name ‘Jane’ Lefroy was actually a tribute to Mrs. Mary Paul Lefroy’s mother, as Lady Paul’s Christian name was Jane as well. But of course I as a Jane/Tom fan prefer it to be referring to the Jane Austen that the young Tom Lefroy met years ago in Hampshire. And I think it was very possible for a man like Tom Lefroy to love, or at least devote his life for his wife and family, but still kept a room in the corner of his heart for his lost youthful love who had died half a century ago in 1817.


Chapman, R. W. 1949, Jane Austen: Facts and Problems, Oxford University Press, reprint from 1948, Oxford.

Radovici, N. 1995, A Youthful Love: Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy?, Merlin Books Devon.

Ray, J. K. 2006, 'The Truth about Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy', Notes and Queries: Oxford Journals, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 311-314.

Spence, J. 2003, Becoming Jane Austen, Continuum International Publishing Group, London.

Tomalin, C. 2000, Jane Austen: A Life, Penguin Books, London.

Walker, L. R. 2007, 'Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy: Stories', Persuasions On-line, vol. 27, no. 1.

Pic 1: the young Thomas Lefroy, painted by G. Engleheart in 1799, from Tomalin's
Jane Austen: A Life (2000 edition, p. 271)

Pic 2: James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy, Britfilms

Pic 3: Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy in Basingstoke Assembly

Pic 4:
James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy (Jane Austen's Regency World, March/April 2007)

Pic 5: Chief Justice Thomas Lefroy, painted by W.H. Mote in 1855 (in the Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy)

Costumes of 'Becoming Jane' in Chawton House

Rachel has found these beautiful pictures of costumes worn by characters in Becoming Jane, currently displayed in Jane Austen's House Museum in Chawton. We lost the link, apologize for that, but will acknowledge the sources once we found it. Or, if possible, I would be glad to have the owner of the images to email us (Icha and Rachel), as finding the link was rather hard (we've tried to locate it several times). Again, sorry for our mistake.

Anyway, the costumes above were worn by Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy) and Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway), respectively, during the ball in Lady Gresham's manor. I particularly love Jane's Regency pale green dress and Tom's deep green velvet coat; the costumes matched their chemistry. Simple, but lovely.

This blue dress is the Regency costume Jane usually wore for house work. I love the blue fabric and the grey sash; it helped bring out a sense of simplicity in Jane (while her red dresses promoted her wittiness!).

This one is a lovely white cotton Regency dress Jane also wore, but I could not remember any scenes where she wore it. I don't think it was the white dress she wore beneath the red Belle-ish cricket dress.

The above is a very lovely red Rococo/Georgian dress worn by Eliza (Lucy Cohu) as she arrived in London. She was extra gorgeous in it.

This is the Rococo/Georgian dress Eliza wore during her wedding with Henry Austen. A nice one, but I was rather expecting her to wear the silver Rococo dress she had during the ball in Lady Gresham's manor. Now that was what I call a wedding dress for Paris; but maybe too extravagant for Hampshire. I hope we can find a nice pic of Henry's red uniform in Chawton later.

This gorgeous purple dress was worn by Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith) during the dinner when Cassandra found out that Thomas Fowle had died in India. I have to say Lady Gresham looked truly menacing in this dress, in a good way! Pair her with Judi Dench, and no couples will escape them! Jane/Tom and Elizabeth/Darcy had to fight for their lives!

Tom Lefroy donned this brown overcoat during his elopement with Jane Austen. The overcoat has a historical value, for it was the very coat Jane held dear with her life as she read the faithful letter from Tom's mother. Poor girl, she must have missed the coat so much, for I bet Tom's scent was everywhere on the coat. Sob-sob!

Pictures of costumes with the characters:, except for Tom & Jane dancing ( and the wedding of Eliza & Henry (Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine March/April 2007)

New 'Becoming Jane' poster

Thanks to Mark Manuel, I found out that Becoming Jane has a new poster, similar to the cover to Anne Newgarden's book (Becoming Jane: The Wit and Wisdoms of Jane Austen). I think this is intended for the U.S. and Canada release specifically. Can anyone tell me where I can BUY the poster? It's so damned lovely. Ebay, perhaps...


Canada release: 3rd August 2007

Lilith confirmed that the Becoming Jane release in Canada will be on the 3rd of August 2007. So that's the same with the U.S. release. Thanks a lot, Lilith!

Have a bit more patience, guys... (it's not easy, I know...)

Friday, 22 June 2007

Joe Anderson ('Henry Austen')

Joe Anderson was born in 1981 to his parents who are both involved in the film industry. He grew up on the outskirts of London, acting consistently through childhood. Acting was always his professional direction from a very young age.

He later attended Richmond Upon Thames College where he studied photography and then applied and was accepted to train at London’s Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. It is reported that as a hobby, Joe plays the guitar to a high standard and actively partakes in rugby, gymnastics and skateboarding.

Joe was very active at the Chichester Festival Theatre, contributing to film and stage dramatics. He has always been very conscientious in his work and has now established a rapidly developing, respectable filmography. Early in 2006 he appeared in Copying Beethoven, an account of the life of Beethoven, which stars Ed Harris. Joe plays the nephew of Beethoven. This film had great reviews in the US but is yet to be released in the UK.

His next role was as the charming, loving Henry Austen in Becoming Jane. Joe plays Jane’s brother who became a very supportive, reliable ally to Jane and her writing career. He financially aided the publication of some of her novels and formed a very special place in Jane’s heart. Joe’s performance was perfect and he was the ideal Henry.

After Becoming Jane, Joe has gone from strength to strength with a main role in Across The Universe, a Beatles musical with a plotline involving Joe’s character Max going to the Vietnam War and placing himself in a fight for peace. His latest project makes him a star of the film Control, the biopic of the British band Joy Division. He stars alongside Samantha Morton and the film is released in the UK in October.

Pic 1: Joe Anderson from IMDb (The Internet Movie Database)

Pic2: Filming of Becoming Jane- Joe Anderson (Henry Austen) and James McAvoy (Tom Lefroy)

Monday, 18 June 2007

Anna Maxwell Martin ('Cassandra Austen')

Anna Maxwell Martin was born ‘Anna Martin’ in 1978 in Beverley, East Yorkshire, England. Maxwell is her middle name which is also the name of her Grandfather. She has one older brother, Adam, and her mother gave up her job as a research scientist to be at home for her children whilst they were growing up. She always strived to work in the field of acting even though her family background did not match a pursuit of the arts.

Anna attended Liverpool University and studied history, in particular World War I. When asked about this choice in study she said ‘Drama school is a big test, emotionally, mentally, physically and I just wasn't ready for it at 18. Besides, I had done well at school and wanted a degree. And I had to do some growing up’. At the age of 20, she joined the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and developed her talent as an actress. During this time she acted in plays including Romeo and Juliet, Three Birds Alighting On A Field, Much Ado About Nothing, Mother Clap and The Way Of The World.

Upon graduating she starred in The Little Foxes at the Donmar Warehouse; the director of which, Roger Michell, is now her long-term partner. During this time life was tough for Anna as her father was diagnosed and died of cancer.

Anna played the leading role of the enchanting 12 year old Lyra in Philip Pulman's His Dark Materials at the National Theatre and this role led to national praise of the actress; she was nominated for an Olivier award.

Next, in 2004, Anna was Bessie Higgins in the television production of the novel North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Also this year she made an appearance as Penny in Enduring Love, also starring Daniel Craig.

In 2005 she amazed critics with her performance as Esther Summerson in the television adaptation of Bleak House by Charles Dickens; this is possibly her most acclaimed performance. Of this character Anna said; ‘I read the book, but Esther, my character, annoyed me - there's something very drippy about her. But Andrew [Davies, who adapted the novel] wrote quite a different character, a much feistier person, much more independent. She doesn't take any rubbish from anyone.’

In 2006 Anna appeared more on stage then behind the camera; one part saw her as Hayley in Other Hands by Laura Wade (Olivier nominee) at the Soho theatre. She played an ambitious management consultant who put her career before any personal happiness; this was a challenge as she was used to playing much younger roles but she embraced the challenge successfully. In one interview when asked of her opinion of acting in plays she stated ‘It's really exciting to do something by a young writer. It's great to discover a play together for the first time. There's no previous imprint on the character - you are creating it afresh.’

She then narrated a children’s book by Marcus Sedgwick about World War I called The Foreshadowing. Later in 2006 she filmed Becoming Jane where she played Cassandra Austen, the older sister of Jane. She was an ideal Cassandra; both kind and tender, and is loved and respected by all Becoming Jane fans.

Recently Anna has been seen as Sally Bowles in the West End production of Cabaret at the Lyric Theatre. An article in the BBC London theatre reviews stated 'And, as fully inhabited with real intelligence by this brilliant ensemble cast, led by Maxwell Martin's rivetingly vulnerable Sally and James Dreyfus' grimly sleazy Emcee, this is a fearless, frank production that magnificently renews a classic musical.'

Pic 1: Anna Maxwell Martin. Taken from google images

Pic 2: Anna Maxwell Martin taken from The official Becoming Jane website

Pic 3: Anna Maxwell Martin as Sally Bowles in Caberet. Taken from google images

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Interview with Director, Producer and Star.

I am always interested in reading interviews of the people responsible for making the film and this one stood out for me.

It is an interview with Julian Jarrold (films director), Robert Bernstein (films producer) and James McAvoy (Tom Lefroy....of course!)

I just wanted to share it with everyone as it gives alot of insight into the making of the film and the ideas behind it.

I think from reading this blog it is clear that Icha and I believe very strongly that there did exist a passionate love story between Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy. James McAvoy makes a statement that I really agree with:

"to understand the human condition you have to have been pained by the human experience."

This is the philosophy that I use when I think of the wonderful love stories that Jane Austen wrote!

The link for the article is here:

I hope you enjoy.

Pic: Sketch of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy from austen effusions by Jane Odiwe.

The Homes Of Jane Austen

I thought that it was really important to include some details and piccies of where Jane Austen spent certain years of her life; the settings for some of her masterpieces.

She grew up in a rectory in Steventon, Hampshire and lived there until she was in her 26th year when she moved to Bath with her beloved sister Cassandra and her parents. She was very happy in Steventon and wrote her Juvenilia (including Lady Susan), Elinor and Marianne which later became Sense and Sensibility, First Impressions which later became Pride and Prejudice and probably Susan which later became Northanger Abbey.

In Bath, the family rented 4 Sydney Place from May 1801. She was neither comfortable nor happy and the family moved repeatedly to smaller dwellings each time. At this time in her life she did not write consistently but the city of Bath did provide a setting for many of her later novels; e.g. Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.

One of her dwellings in Bath where she lived for a few months after her fathers death can be found at number 25 Gay Street. Now at number 40 (same side of the street), The Jane Austen Centre exists to invite tourists and lovers of Jane Austen to experience some of the sights that Jane herself saw throughout her time here. The houses are Georgian and were built between 1735 and 1760.

I have visited the centre and it gave me an overwhelming sense of excitement to think that I was walking and seeing the places Jane had once seen and been. I really would recommend it to everyone who is interested in Jane Austens world. There are also organised walks around Bath where you can walk in her footsteps and see the other houses that she lived in during her time in the city.

Jane, Cassandra and her mother left Bath in 1805 and moved to Southampton to live with Jane's brother Frank and his family until 1809. At this time Edward (the very wealthy brother of Jane) offered his mother and sisters a cottage at his estate in Chawton, Hampshire. It is established that Jane was very excited about the move as she desperately missed the country life and soon after arriving in Chawton she began writing again; Mansfield Park, Emma,
Persuasion and began Sandition (never completed before her death).

She was finally in the first place where she felt completely settled since leaving Steventon 8 years prior. She remained here until her death in 1817.

Jane Austens House Museum (Chawton cottage) is now also open to the public and it is definitely worth a visit! It is so clear why Jane loved it there, it is peaceful and cosy. They have many things on show such as her writing table (see picture) which is very moving to see. The staff are very informed and have a passion in Jane Austen and her work so this makes the visit so much more rewarding. They often have exhibitions running and currently there are costumes on show from 'Becoming Jane'- they are just beautiful.

Pic 1: St. Nicholas Church in Steventon. Picture from (shows other buildings linked to Jane's life).
Pic 2: The Jane Austen Centre. Picture from Jane Austen's regency world magazine.
Pic 3: Chawton Cottage

Filming location of 'Becoming Jane'

Defying the tradition of previous Austenian movies, Becoming Jane was filmed in Dublin and some countryside of Ireland, instead of Hampshire, U.K., the birthplace of Jane Austen. The movie indeed received funding from the Irish Film Board, but as Julian Jarrold said in an interview with Phase9 Entertainment, the decision was mainly driven by the fact that ‘Hampshire now is groomed and manicured and we were able to find in Ireland was a sense of countryside that felt more unchanged. That was one of the things that I really wanted to get... a sense of the landscape in which Jane Austen grew up. Ireland also has a great variety of Georgian houses and older houses as well. I think it gave us quite a different and interesting look for the film’.

At first, I was rather disappointed that the movie was not shot in England, but then after reading this interview, I was convinced that it was the right decision. The bad weather somehow created better lighting and soulful feelings for the movie, not unlike the bad weather in the Legends of the Falls. And after all, Tom Lefroy was an Irishman, so it kinda paid tribute to him as one of the most important figure in Jane Austen's life. In addition, in an interview with the Britfilms, James McAvoy said that he liked the fact that the houses in Becoming Jane were 'left to recede a bit more, a bit more gritty that you haven't seen in Austen films' and thus portrayed a 'sense of reality and a sense of poorer world' in the Regency Period. Yup. A good choice indeed, and I mean it.

See Film 2006 interview with Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy and Julie Walters for better viewing of the set in Dublin. I hope that the DVD will feature landscapes and buildings used to make the movie, for they are very beautiful indeed!


Another interpretation on the 'friend' in letter November 17, 1798

Dear BJ lovers,

I just re-read John Halperin's article (Jane Austen's Lovers), and found out that he suggested that the 'friend' that wrote to Mrs. Lefroy was NOT Tom Lefroy, but a Rev. Samuel Blackall whom Jane met in December 1797. For the article clearly stated that the analysis was based on deductions, I feel that I do not need to amend my earlier post re: Jane Austen's letter November 17, 1798. I just think that another reference would be beneficial for comparisons, and of course, feel free to interpret the documents. Below is the excerpt of Halperin's interesting paper (p. 723). Although I still believe that the 'friend' referred to Tom Lefroy instead of Samuel Blackall, I would of course welcome constructive feedback on this particular letter and additional information of Mr. Blackall.


About Jane Austen's next suitor there is more information, though much of what follows here is the result largely of guesswork and deduction; his name is not mentioned in any surviving letters written by Jane Austen. During the Christmas festivities at Steven- ton in 1797, just after the novelist's twenty-second birthday, she met the Rev. Samuel Blackall, a Cambridge don who was then paying a visit to the Lefroys. He seems to have fallen in love with Jane Austen -or managed to convince himself that he had done so. Four years older than she, Blackall, great-grandson of the Bishop of Exeter in the time of Queen Anne, became a Fellow of Emman- uel College, and was ordained in 1794. In later years (from 1812 onwards) he was Rector of North -not "Great," as Jane has it in a letter -Cadbury in Somersetshire.

In the autumn of 1798, nine months after meeting the novelist in Hampshire, Blackall wrote to Mrs. Lefroy that he wished to improve his acquaintance with the Austens, and especially with Jane -"with a hope of creating to myself a nearer interest. But at present I cannot indulge any expectation of it." Mrs. Lefroy showed Blackall's letter to Jane, who wrote of it to Cassandra: "This is rational enough; there is less love and more sense in it than some- times appeared before, and I am very well satisfied. It will all go on exceedingly well, and decline away in a very reasonable manner." It is clear from this that Blackall had made his feelings known to her the previous year, and that she had made it equally clear to him that his feelings were not reciprocated. It was less than three years since lively Tom Lefroy had disappeared, and the ponderous Blackall was hardly the man to take his place in Jane Austen's affections. Jane tells Cassandra that Blackall will not come into Hampshire this Christmas (1798), "and it is therefore most probable that our indifference will soon be mutual, unless his regard, which appeared to spring from knowing nothing of me at first, is best supported by never seeing me."" This was a one-sided romance. Blackall's name is never given; he is referred to by the novelist only as a "friend."

As Jane predicted, Blackall soon ceased his attentions. Years later, in 1813, he married. Hearing of this, and of his acquiring the Somersetshire living, the novelist wrote complacently to Cassandra of Blackall's "succeeding . . . to the very Living which we remembered his talking of and wishing for." She adds: "He was a piece of Perfection, noisy Perfection himself whom I always recol- lect with regard." "Pictures of perfection," Jane Austen told one of her nieces a few months before her death, "make me sick &wickedn; her characterization of Blackall here should be seen in that light. She could never summon up more than "regard" for him; indeed, she seems to have found him pompous and didactic. When she goes on in her 1813 letter to Cassandra to describe what she hopes for in Blackall's wife, we may see a little more of what he might have been like: "I would wish Miss Lewis to be of a silent turn & rather ignorant, but naturally intelligent & wishing to learn; -fond of cold veal pies, green tea in the afternoon, & a green window blind at night." So much for Blackall. It would seem from this that he was not seeking intellectual companionship in a wife, and this may have been another reason why Jane Austen could not bring herself to accept him.


PS July 10, 2007:

Upon the arrival of Jon Spence's Becoming Jane Austen, I finally convinced myself that 'the friend' in letter November 17, 1798 was actually Samuel Blackall. Thus, I acknowledge my mistake and apologise for that.


Halperin, J. 1985, 'Jane Austen's Lovers', Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 719-736. Available:

Spence, J. 2003, Becoming Jane Austen, 2007, Second edn, Continuum International Publishing Group, London.

Manydown Park: where it all started...

This is a picture of Manydown Park where Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy once danced together. In fact, it was in Manydown that our youthful couple did the ‘most profligate and shocking’ dances and discussions, as mentioned in Jane’s first letter (January 9, 1976) (Nokes 1997, p. 248).

I scanned the picture from Tomalin's Jane Austen: A Life, p. 271, of which original source was G.F. Proser's Select Illustrations of Hampshire (1833). According to Tomalin, the Manydown Park belonged to the Bigg family, who arrived in Hampshire in 1789. Widower Lovelace Bigg inherited the mansion from cousins Wither, and hence Mr. Bigg and his two sons changed their names to 'Bigg-Wither'. Three of his five daughters, who somehow retained the 'Bigg' name, eventually befriended the Austen girls. The young Harris Bigg-Wither, heir of the Manydown House, grew up to be an excellent educated young man who eventually proposed to marry Jane on the evening of December 2, 1802; seven years after the Lefroy affairs. Jane accepted the proposal on the very evening, only to change her mind and turned it down on the next morning. Apparently, Mr. Bigg-Wither did not leave impacts greater than the Irish Lefroy...

By the by, it is possible that Julian Jarrold &c took this Bigg-Wither character and developed him into Mr. Wisley, for Jane also refused poor Wisley's proposal for marriage. Why, Nokes even said that Harris Bigg-Wither was 'a less amiable companion. Tall, clumsy and awkward, he would shamble through the house, or lounge on a sofa, adding little to the general conversation' (p. 251).

Just a note, Mr. Wisley and Lady Gresham are fictional characters, for to my knowledge their names are not in any Austen biographies or letters at all. The Manydown Park was not included in Becoming Jane either, for Jane and Tom did their first dance in the Basingstoke Assembly Room. I will try to get the picture later and post it in another article.


Chapman, R. W. 1979, Jane Austen's Letters to Her Sister Cassandra and Others, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Halperin, J. 1985, 'Jane Austen's Lovers', Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 719-736.

Tomalin, C. 2000, Jane Austen: A Life, Penguin Books, London.

Nokes, D. 1997, Jane Austen: A Life, Fourth Estate, London.