The title alone suggests that this post is speculative. However, Chapman’s Facts and Problems suggested that Jane, Cassandra and Mrs. Austen were visiting the Leigh-Perrots at Paragon, Bath in Somerset in November 1797 . Tomalin also suggested that in 1797 a young nephew was taken to dinner at the Chute’s by the Lefroys of Ashe (Tomalin 2000). If Tom Lefroy was this young nephew, and he was in Hampshire in 1797, did he also go to
No JA letters survived for November 1797, or the entire year 1797 for that matter (despite important things such as the death of Thomas Fowle and Henry-Eliza’s wedding), thus we might never know what exactly happened in
‘This morning we have been to see Miss Chamberlayne look hot on horseback. – Seven years & four months ago we went to the same Ridinghouse to see Miss Lefroy’s performance! – What a different set are we now moving in! But seven years I suppose are enough to change every pore of one’s skin, & every feeling of one’s mind.’ [bolded sentence by Icha]
Kathryn Sutherland, editor of Memoir of Jane Austen (1871, 2nd edition), noted that this particular letter was 'heavily edited'. Anyway, other than the fact that Jane Austen used the word ‘hot’ in her letter (!), the bolded sentence intrigued me. Seven years and four months before
According to Radovici (1995), before moving to stay in Bath (1801), Jane Austen had visited Bath several times to visit Mrs. Austen’s cousins (the Coopers and the Leigh-Perrots). Her knowledge would rather help her in writing Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and also a bit of Emma. Let’s take a look at Emma first for signs of
Emma was first published in 1815. In volume II, chapter 5 (page 178 of the 2003 Penguin Edition), Harriet Smith asked, ‘Will Mr. Frank Churchill pass through
At that time, Harriet and Emma just received news from Mr. Weston that Frank Churchill was about to go to Highbury (Emma’s village in
Frank Churchill was actually engaged with Jane Fairfax in secret, lest his aunt (Mrs. Churchill, rich and childless) would be mad because he was in love with a woman of no significant rank. Well, Tom Lefroy’s great uncle and benefactor (Benjamin Langlois, also wealthy and childless) would not be pleased either if he found out that Tom harboured a secret feeling for Jane Austen. And as I suggested in my earlier post about Tom Lefroy reference in ‘Emma’ that Frank Churchill (and Mr. Dixon) might represent Tom Lefroy (and Jane Fairfax represented a bit of Jane Austen herself), it is possible that the man Harriet was talking about going from Oxford to Highbury via Bath was not only Frank Churchill, but also Tom Lefroy himself. I’m not sure if Frank was an
If it is true that Jane was partially telling a story of Tom Lefroy here, something tells me that she was speaking of the missing year of 1797, where she, her sister Cassandra and her mother went to
In volume II chapter 1 of Emma, Miss Bates also said that ‘Jane [
Radovici suggested that Jane’s time shared with Tom in
In Emma, it was told that Frank Churchill met Jane Fairfax in Weymouth, Dorset U.K. Volume II chapter 2 (the last paragraph) says: ‘She [Jane Fairfax] and Mr. Frank Churchill had been at
In the first paragraph of Volume II chapter 5, Harriet saw a trunk addressed to The Rev. Philip Elton, White-Hart, Bath. Perhaps the White-Hart refers to the White Hart Inn, an old inn in
In the last paragraph of Volume II chapter 2, Jane Fairfax actually said, ‘At a watering-place, or in a common
Of Jane Austen’s six novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were the only novels truly set in a real place:
Jane wrote Northanger Abbey circa 1798/99. At that time, she would still have fresh memories of
In 1816, years after Northanger Abbey, Jane once again used
Northanger Abbey and Persuasion shared similar geographical feature in Bath, i.e.
Now, Chapman noticed that Jane, Cassandra and Mrs. Austen visited the Leigh-Perrots at Paragon, in
What happened in
Jane Austen harboured mixed feelings towards
In 1801, Mr. Austen moved his family to
Trying to cope with the new home, Jane had her bad days and some okay days. However, in 1805, Revd George Austen died in
But somehow, with the hints here and there of Tom Lefroy’s presence in
I believe that
Austen-Leigh, J. E. 1871, A Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections (2002 Oxford edition), Oxford World's Classics, Oxford.
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.
Spence, J. 2003, Becoming Jane Austen, 2007, Second edn, Continuum International Publishing Group, London.
Tomalin, C. 2000, Jane Austen: A Life, Penguin Books, London.
Pic 1: Roman spa in
Pic 2: Emma (Gwyneth Palthrow) and Harriet Smith (Toni Collette), from Jane Austen Centre
Pic 3: White Hart Inn in Bath
Pic 4: White Hart pub in
Pic 5: Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey
Pic 6: Anne Elliot and Capt. Wentworth, Persuasion
Pic 7: Map of