Friday, 31 August 2007

Mansfield Park: Jane Austen’s Tribute to Tom Lefroy

Are we mistaken in consideringMansfield Park’ as a silent homage to [Jane’s] Irish friend? (Radovici 1995, p. 70).

I have read the quote above a few months ago as I acquired my copy of Radovici’s A Youthful Love from dearest Linda. Yet, I have never got the chance or interest to look deeper into Mansfield Park, not until a few afternoons ago, when Michelle told me what she had found in the first pages of MP. And after re-reading the passages (and snatched an MP copy from the closest bookstore), I have to agree with Radovici: Mansfield Park was Jane's tribute to Tom Lefroy. And because in 1814 only a very few people knew of Jane’s history with Tom (let alone the true story of Tom Lefroy and brother Anthony), almost no one realised the treasure of MP. I doubt that even Henry and Cass knew the real big background story of MP, other than that MP was an evidence of Jane's support to the abolitionist movement (viva Amazing Grace! Go Wilberforce!) and that MP was alluding to the cousins in love (i.e. Henry and Eliza) the way Jane wanted to portray The Watsons.

Now, many biographers and scholars think of MP as a different kind of Austen book, unlike her other works. Back when MP was first published, not many of Jane’s family and friends favoured the book (check Republic of Pemberley). Even Mrs. Austen thought that Fanny Price was ‘insipid’. Indeed, Wikipedia says that MP ‘is the most controversial and perhaps the least popular of Austen's major novels.’ In short, a truly out-of-place book.

It was indeed what I thought until I read it with Jane’s view point of Tom Lefroy. With such a POV, information jumped easily out of the pages to reveal the other layers not yet seen, with the exception by dear Radovici. Hence, this is the first of several articles on the meaning of Mansfield Park for Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy. The article is heavily coloured with Michelle’s suggestions, hence I thank her for that.

Reference of Tom Lefroy in Mansfield Park

Jane wrote MP from February 1811 to 1814 and published it on May 9th, 1814 (Austen-Leigh 1871). First, the initial. MP = Mansfield Park. But it can also mean Mary Paul (!), or Member of Parliament. The last one is tricky, for in 1811-14, Thomas Langlois Lefroy was not an MP yet (he became an MP in 1830). But it's just... a strange coincident. Then, Volume I Chapter 1, first paragraph:

About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions, did it very thoroughly. She could hardly have made a more untoward choice. [bolded sentence by Icha]

Forget Maria Ward or Frances Ward for a moment. What happened to Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy thirty years from a certain time point?

Jane met Tom in Christmas 1795. Thirty years beforehand, 1765 was... the secret wedding of Anthony Peter Lefroy and Ann Gardner; i.e. Tom Lefroy's parents. November 15th, 1765, to be exact (Cranfield 1960). Hence, in the first sentence of MP, Jane already stated that Mansfield Park was a story about Tom Lefroy, starting from his parents’ ‘unfortunate’ marriage.

Sir Thomas Bertram had interest, which, from principle as well as pride--from a general wish of doing right, and a desire of seeing all that were connected with him in situations of respectability, he would have been glad to exert for the advantage of Lady Bertram's sister; but her husband's profession was such as no interest could reach; and before he had time to devise any other method of assisting them, an absolute breach between the sisters had taken place. It was the natural result of the conduct of each party, and such as a very imprudent marriage almost always produces.

It is possible that Sir Thomas Bertram (STB) referred to Tom Lefroy himself who helped brother Anthony after Ben Langlois ditched him. But, with all due respect to my dear AR/O, I think STB was more of Benjamin Langlois, who was a snobbish man in nature, and certainly wanted to protect his family's name (though STB could also be the portrayal of Tom himself). Now, Michelle also pointed out that apparently Tom Lefroy's sister's disagreed over his choice of bride (i.e. Mary Paul). Interestingly, Lady Bertram and Mrs Norris bickered with their sister over her choice of husband.

I consent, because the 1979 Huguenot paper by JAP Lefroy also indicated that Tom's sisters were NOT happy with Tom’s marriage with Mary (thanks to Arnie for the paper!). I am not certain of the cause, perhaps because the sisters wanted to grab Thomas Paul (Mary's brother) instead. But, certainly the unhappiness was not about Jane. I doubt that Tom's sisters were well-versed of Jane Austen.

Then, still Chapter 1, second paragraph (JA's paragraphs are long, eh?):

By the end of eleven years Mrs. Price could no longer afford to cherish pride or resentment, or to lose one connection that might possibly assist her.... she addressed Lady Bertram in a letter.[bolded words by Icha]

Counting 11 years from 1765 was... bingo! 1776. The year Tom Lefroy was born. Radovici explained that only after Tom's birth did Tom's parents tell Ben Langlois of their marriage. And of course, Mrs. Price then sent Fanny, her ELDEST daughter, to the place of her rich sister's. And of course we know that Tom was the eldest son of his family. Plus, Mrs. Norris had no offspring…the way Ben Langlois had no son/daughter at all. Could it be that Fanny Price was actually Tom Lefroy?

Now, this is what Wikipedia said about Fanny Price:

A daughter in a family of nine who is sent to live with her mother's sisters at Mansfield Park. Her mother defied her family and married a poor lieutenant of marines for love. Mrs Price's alcoholic husband was disabled and released from the service on half pay, and she had to settle for a life far less comfortable than those of her sisters. Fanny is sensitive and shy, and her status at Mansfield Park as a dependent poor relation only intensifies these traits. The bulk of the novel takes place when she is between fifteen and eighteen.

A daughter of nine. Well, Tom was a son of eleven, but then two of his siblings (Catherine, 3rd Dec 1805 and Christopher, 14th Feb 1805) died. Hence, by the time MP was written (1811/14), Tom was a son of NINE, who had been sent to live with his father's relative. And was he not a reserved person? A shy person whom Jane loved to tease? A sensitive soul?

That's Fanny Price, who had a lot of Tom in her. Fanny, who often feared the presence of Sir Thomas Bertram (and we doubt that Tom saw Benjamin Langlois as someone not to be feared of). Fanny, who in Chapter 4 had an old grey poney (The ensuing spring deprived her of her valued friend the old grey poney). Later, Cousin Edmund Bertram gave her a horse, a true mare, and she liked it, though ‘She had not supposed before, that any thing could ever suit her like the old grey poney.’

Now, Jane Austen did not have a pony. She had a donkey instead (Letter #142, July 9th, 1816: ‘we set off in the Donkey Carriage for Farringdon’). Now let’s see p. 382 of the Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy:

He always enjoyed riding more than any other exercise, and, whenever the weather permitted, he continued, up to the year of his death, to take his morning or afternoon ride on a favourite pony which he had had for more than thirty years.

Tom Lefroy loved riding horse... to be precise, a PONY which he had had since 1830s, when he was in his 60s. Could JA be alluding to Tom with the poney? That Tom actually had loved ponies since he was a teenager (perhaps even owned a grey one), and told Jane about it? Jane then used it to indicate that Fanny Price was actually Tom Lefroy.

There was another character that was inspired by Tom, i.e. Fanny’s cousin, Edmund Bertram. Wikipedia says that Edmund was:

The younger son of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram; he is six years older than Fanny. He plans to be a clergyman. He alone among his family has any consideration for Fanny's feelings. As her protector and friend, he has a great deal of influence over her and helps to form her character. Edmund becomes attracted to Miss Crawford.

Didn't Tom want to be a clergyman? Or at least, he was VERY religious. And he was kind and a good listener, I bet not unlike the real Tom Lefroy himself, to whom the chatty Jane fell in love. And Edmund was attracted to a Mary Crawford. In real life, we know that Tom finally married Mary Paul.

Hence, in Mansfield Park, Tom Lefroy was at least portrayed in both Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram, her cousin she later married to. However, there are instances where Jane Austen inserted herself in Fanny's story, as we will read in the following sections.

Anthony Lefroy in Mansfield Park

Jane Austen had many references for her characters in MP. Unexpectedly for me, had I not learned about Anthony before, Jane also inserted Anthony in MP. As we know, the generous Edmund had an elder brother, Thomas Bertram, who – according to Wikipedia – was:

The elder son of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram; he is seven years older than Fanny. Tom is principally interested in carousing in London society and enjoying the pleasures of the theatre with his friend Mr Yates. Tom incurs large debts, forcing Sir Thomas to sell the church position that was to have gone to Edmund, Tom's younger brother. One celebratory journey leaves Tom with a fever.

Now, the 1979 JAP paper has something about dear Anthony Lefroy (p. 155):

His [Tom's] brother Anthony had followed his father into the Army. He had a disastrous career, being constantly in debt and having to be bailed out by great-uncle Benjamin. Finally, as mentioned above, he made what was regarded as an unsuitable marriage and his great-uncle, in letters full of furious invective, cut him off completely. he had to sell his commission and leave the Army. Thomas, however came to his assistance. Using his influence with the Government he obtained for his brother the lowly but reasonably paid post of Barrack Master at York which he held for nearly 40 years.

Michelle also found something in the first paragraphs of Chapter 3:

The living was hereafter for Edmund; and, had his uncle died a few years sooner, it would have been duly given to some friend to hold till he were old enough for orders. But Tom's extravagance had, previous to that event, been so great as to render a different disposal of the next presentation necessary, and the younger brother must help to pay for the pleasures of the elder. There was another family living actually held for Edmund; but though this circumstance had made the arrangement somewhat easier to Sir Thomas's conscience, he could not but feel it to be an act of injustice, and he earnestly tried to impress his eldest son with the same conviction, in the hope of its producing a better effect than anything he had yet been able to say or do.

"I blush for you, Tom," said he, in his most dignified manner; "I blush for the expedient which I am driven on, and I trust I may pity your feelings as a brother on the occasion. You have robbed Edmund for ten, twenty, thirty years, perhaps for life, of more than half the income which ought to be his. It may hereafter be in my power, or in yours (I hope it will), to procure him better preferment; but it must not be forgotten that no benefit of that sort would have been beyond his natural claims on us, and that nothing can, in fact, be an equivalent for the certain advantage which he is now obliged to forego through the urgency of your debts." [bolded parts by Icha]

By now, we know that Tom Lefroy had to lose his future; because of marrying Lizzy Wilkin, Anthony had robbed his brother Tom for ten, twenty, thirty years, perhaps for life... Though beforehand, there was actually another family living held for Tom Lefroy. Not with Mary Paul… but with Jane Austen.

But, perhaps Anthony was not that evil. He was a pitiable mess indeed, but Tom still cared for him, and I believed, vice versa. For it is also said that 'Tom [Bertram] listened with some shame and some sorrow'. It means that he, to Jane’s perspective at least, held some remorse.

It’s interesting to think of Jane’s perception of Anthony Lefroy. Chapter 5 page 45 (Penguin 2003) mentioned another thing about Thomas Bertram:

Tom Bertram must have been thought pleasant, indeed, at any rate; he was the sort of young man to be generally liked, his agreeableness was of the kind to be oftener found agreeable than some endowments of a higher stamps, for he had easy manners, excellent spirits, a large acquaintance, and a great deal to say... [bolded words by Icha]

Watch the must have been thought; for it means that this is truly the narrator's (Jane's) POV, despite trying to get into the head of Mary Crawford. I mean, in describing Fanny and Edmund, Jane did not use the 'must have been thought' style. Hence, it means that Jane was also not sure what kind of person Tom Bertram exactly was. Or, Anthony Lefroy, to be precise. But from Tom Lefroy's descriptions of his younger brother, Jane concluded that, from the outside, Anthony must be an amiable man; at least his manners were agreeable. Cheerful person, in comparison to Tom's shy and reserve nature.

Irish Reference in Mansfield Park

Now, we cannot talk of Tom Lefroy without talking of Ireland. We found references of Ireland in Persuasion and Emma, and seemingly, MP is not devoid of Irish reference. Michelle has found out one, jumping out of chapter 2 as Fanny's cousins talked about her lack of knowledge:

“But, aunt, she is really so very ignorant! - Do you know we asked her last night, which way she would go to get to Ireland; and she said, she should cross to the Isle of Wight. She thinks of nothing but the Isle of Wight, and she calls it the Island, as if there were no other Island in the world.”

Not unlike the way Jane Austen 'used' Frank Churchill to tell about Jane Fairfax/Austen or Lizzy to tell about Jane Bennet/Austen, here she also used Fanny's cousin to tell how Jane herself always thought of nothing but the Isle... the Island. Ireland, as if there were no other Island in the world. What did Miss Bates say about Jane Fairfax and Ireland in Emma? ‘Jane [Fairfax] was quite longing to go to Ireland, from his account of things’ for ‘he [Mr. Dixon] had shown them some drawings of the place, views that he had taken himself’ (Emma, Volume II chapter 1).

The way Fanny Price could not think of another Island in the world, Jane Austen told us that she could not think of another island other than Ireland.

Christmas holiday in Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park was not devoid of Jane’s favourite holiday: Christmas. Kudos to Michelle on spotting the importance of Christmas holiday in Chapter 2, where William (Fanny’s brother) visited Fanny in Mansfield Park.

Once and once only in the course of many years had she the happiness of being with William…Luckily the visit happened in the Christmas holidays, when she could directly look for comfort to her cousin Edmund, and he told her of such charming things of what William was to do, and be hereafter, in consequence of his profession, as to make her gradually admit that the separation might have some use…In return of such services she loved him better than any body in the world except William; her heart was divided between the two. [bolded parts by Icha]

From the passage, we learn that Fanny's greatest happiness (so far) took place during the Christmas holidays. Michelle suggested that Fanny (Jane) enjoyed the company of William (Tom – JA often switched characters), while applying to Edmund (Cassandra) for comfort and support for the upcoming separation. I totally agree. After meeting Tom Lefroy, Jane Austen’s heart would be torn between her sister Cass and Tom.

Tom’s trust in Jane

On scanning, five first chapters are already full of Ireland/Tom Lefroy references. What about the ENTIRE book? Can't imagine that; too scary! Michelle already bombarded me with more and more analysis, I had to request her to slow down :-D

Another very important thing: since clearly here Jane talked about Benjamin Langlois, Tom's parents (and sisters perhaps) brother and Anthony, it means that Jane was Tom's confidant. He entrusted her the 'dirty family business' of the Lefroys. To me, she was MORE than a fling to him. Much more than a simple winter flirtation.

Jane could not possibly know these all from Mrs. Anne Lefroy; Anne would not relay such embarrassing news to her young friend. No. I am certain that Tom Lefroy himself told Jane about his family problems. And how could Jane now about Anthony, of all people, in details if Tom did not tell her? That means another thing: if it's true that MP was alluding to Anthony's 'unfortunate' marriage as well (in addition to his fathers' - Anthony Peter Lefroy's - marriage), hence after Anthony's wedding, Tom still had time to tell Jane of what truly happened. It could be right after November 1798... or before the March 1799 wedding... or afterwards.

For as Arnie said from the first letter of Mrs. Lefroy (Rachel is trying to obtain the book for me), Tom and his father (Anthony Peter Lefroy) visited Ashe in early Oct 1800. And there was a long gap in Jane's letters then (more than a year, after 19 June 1799 to before 27 October 1800). Could Tom talk to Jane then... after his wedding? I cannot think of another window of opportunity... unless Tom wrote her a letter. But somehow, I feel he would want to deliver the story himself, if he had the chance. And seemingly, he had the chance.

Dear friends, I hope this post triggers your interest in reading Mansfield Park now. I find it a very interesting book after I read it with Tom Lefroy perspective. Perhaps I should not do that. Perhaps I just read it as it is: a novel, full stop. But I cannot believe that Jane scattered so many hints on Tom Lefroy in Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Northanger Abbey and (of course) Persuasion, but left Mansfield Park out. It is, to me, unthinkable. To me, Mansfield Park was indeed Jane Austen’s silent homage to Thomas Langlois Lefroy. As Radovici (p. 70) put it:

'Mansfield Park’ is above all a book about the difficulty of preserving true moral consciousness in the selfish maneuvering of society…After one has read the Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy’, after one has learned of Thomas Lefroy's lifelong struggle to maintain true values in a changing world, Mansfield Park’sometimes described as 'a strange book' acquires a deeper meaning.


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

Austen, J. 1814, Mansfield Park (2003 edition), Penguin, London.

Austen, J. 1815, Emma (2003 edition), Penguin, London.

Cranfield, R. E. 1960, From Ireland to Western Australia: The Establishment of a Branch of the Lefroy Family at Walebing, Western Australia, 1842 to 1960, Service Printing Perth.

Faye, D. L. 1997, Jane Austen's Letters, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Lefroy, J. A. P. 1979, 'Jane Austen's Irish Friend', Huguenot Society Proceedings, vol. 23, pp. 148-165.

Lefroy, T. 1871, Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy, Hodges, Foster & Co., Dublin.

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

Pic 1: DVD cover to the 1999 Mansfield Park, Allposters

Pic 2: Cover to Mansfield Park, Oxford edition

Pic 3: Edmund Bertram (Jonny Lee Miller) and Fanny Price (Frances O’Connor),

Pic 4: Edmund comforting Fanny, Republic of Pemberley

Pic 5: the 2007 ITV Mansfied Park, Guardian UK

Pic 6: A Joan Hassall woodcut for Mansfield Park, Folio Edition 1959, JA Society of Australia

Pic 7: Fanny accepting Edmund’s proposal, Jane Austen Society of UK

Thursday, 30 August 2007

More and more BJ videos

Sorry for my silent today. While waiting for Rachel's results in Ireland, Michelle and I bombarded each other with our findings on Mansfield Park (amazing book, lovely, capital piece of literature!). Hope to post an article on MP and JA/TL by Saturday. Meanwhile, allow me to welcome our second Associate Researcher/Observer: Kari. Soon, she will be doing her own sleuthing in the Netherland... :-D And hopefully we will have a many happy returns!

Also several music videos: here's Please Remember from Elee1286. Love the song!

Also, the Corrs's Runaway is used in this music video by Brightheavens. Gosh, I SO love that song, it's one of my fave, and it suits the movie so much!

Nickelback's Far Away is used in this music video by Pinkstar066.

The last one for this session is Meglovesvb's video, using Avril Lavigne's When You're Gone.


Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Fan-fiction sequel and more BJ videos

Dearest friends,

My extreme gratitude to Rachel for her beta of ch 3 of If I Loved You Less, despite her busy packing to Ireland. Hope you like ch 3 (containing the faithful event that changed Tom's life forever), and thanks for the review!

Also, Megan has informed me of the other 'Who Knew' Becoming Jane YouTube video by Leelo91592, and here's the video to enjoy.

Another music video is titled 'Incomplete' and I love the theme of the song. Thanks also to Megan for the tips and to Pinkstar066 for the video. Uh, LOVE the kissing scene!


Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Jane Bennet/Charles Bingley = Jane Austen/Tom Lefroy?

Firstly, I would like to welcome Michelle as our Associate Researcher/Observer. With that role, she’s tied up with providing us more research materials/information she can obtain. Heheheh… (evil grin). Second, I would like to wish all the best for Rachel that will fly to Dublin on Wednesday morning for our particular ‘Mission to Ireland’. Let the detective work there begin.

Third, this particular post is the result of my discussion with our new AR/O re: Pride & Prejudice, the similarities between Jane/Tom and PP calendar created by Ellen Moody (a truly brilliant work, by the way!). During the discussion, I was struck by my oblivion of Jane Bennet and her Mr. Bingley. I should have known that Jane Austen did not just name her characters ‘Jane’ for nothing. In Emma, for example, I suggested that Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill practically symbolised JA herself and Tom Lefroy. Thus, why not Jane Bennet in Pride & Prejudice?

In Volume I chapter III, Charles Bingley was described as ‘good looking and gentlemanlike’ with ‘a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners’ (Hmm…he reminds me of Tom Lefroy). According to Ellen’s website, Jane Bennet first met Mr. Bingley (and his silly hair and proper blue coat) on Thursday, October 10th, 1811. Then, to the amazement of the crowds, they danced four dances at the Meryton Assembly on Monday, October 21st , 1811. Later on, Elizabeth Bennet said to Charlotte (Vol I chapter 6) that though the common practice was ‘of being well married’ and ‘to get a rich husband’, but ‘these are not Jane’s feelings’ and that ‘she is not acting by design.’ In another word, Jane Bennet’s feeling towards Charles Bingley was pure affection.

Come to think of it, the way JA ‘used’ Frank Churchill to address herself (by way of Jane Fairfax), it is very likely that JA was actually using Lizzy to tell the audience about her own heart. That Jane Austen herself also danced quite a few dances with Tom Lefroy, an action that also attracted gossips in Basingstokes and Hampshire, not unlike the gossips in Meryton and Longbourn.

Then, dear smart Lizzy also said in the same chapter, ‘She [Jane] has known him [Bingley] only a fortnight. She danced four dances with him at Meryton; she saw him one morning at his own house, and has since dined in company with him four times.’ Although I see Lizzy’s next sentence (‘This is not quite enough to make her understand his character’) as the way JA balanced the story, I cannot evade the feeling that JA was actually talking of herself here.

Now, Jane Austen met Tom Lefroy for the first time in Christmas holiday 1795. Well, it could be after 25 December, or even beforehand (for Christmas holiday certainly started before the Christmas itself). Say Tom arrived in Ashe a day before Christmas (24 December), hence by the time he danced with Jane in Manydown Park (8 January 1796), that would have been a fortnight. In addition, as Jane was Mrs. Lefroy’s friend, it would be very plausible for her to come to Ashe to visit Madam Lefroy and also her nephew Thomas. By the same token, four times dinner between Jane and Tom was not impossible.

Back to PP: Mrs. Bennet orchestrated Jane to visit Netherfield and, by the help of the timely rain, Jane stayed overnight at Netherfield to avoid heavy avian flu :-D I don’t think Jane Austen herself stayed in Ashe, not in that fashion at least. This part, I should give a toast to JA for her brilliance. But I believe she did take the following analysis from her personal experience:

Came the famous Netherfield ball on Tuesday, November 26th, where Jane Bennet danced happily with Mr. Bingley, glow of happiness from within her. Yet, the growing relationship between Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley (and his ‘amazing’ hair) caused some stirs, not only between the Bingley sisters, but also to Mr. Darcy’s internal peace. As we all know, Mr. Bingley was then persuaded by Mr. Darcy to leave Netherfield for London. Ellen Moody’s calendar for this event was Wednesday, Nov 27th. Poor Miss Bennet was broken hearted.

In real life, the family and friends of Tom Lefroy were also concerned about his growing relationship with Jane Austen, similar to the family and friends of Charles Bingley on his fondness of Miss Bennet, as Michelle suggested. Like Miss Bennet and Mr. Bingley, instant intimacy also grew rapidly between Jane and Tom. Such a breach of propriety! Hence, on Saturday, 16 January 1796, Tom Lefroy was sent back to London, a day after the ball at Ashe (Friday, 15 January 1796). Neat, eh?

Back to Jane Bennet. We know she went to London for a few months to no avail, for she did not meet Bingley and his hair ^_^ there. But, from Jon Spence and Le Faye, we learned that Jane Austen went to London and very likely stayed with Mr. Benjamin Langlois. In another word, unlike Jane Bennet, JA saw Tom in London. Let’s get back to this later.

After months of suffering, happiness arrived for Jane Bennet. In early August 1812 (Ellen suggested it circa August 5th), Darcy brought Mr. Bingley to Lambton to meet Lizzy Bennet. In Vol III Chapter 2 (Chapter 44), the remorseful Bingley said that it was a very long time since he had the pleasure of seeing her Lizzy. He also said that, ‘It is above eight months. We have not met since the 26th of November, when we were all dancing together at Netherfield.’

Switching back to the real Jane (Austen), dear friends. Jon Spence and Deirdre Le Faye (Jane Austen’s Letters, 1997, p. 355) speculated that JA stayed in the house of Tom’s uncle during her stay in London at the end of August 1796. August… the month of Mr. Bingley’s meeting with Lizzy (i.e. Jane’s sister). It is also almost eight months span from 16 January (Tom’s departure) to 23 August (Jane’s Cork Street letter).

Now, of course we know what happened to Jane Bennet then: she met Mr. Bingley again after a year in October 1812. Bingley’s later reunion with Jane Bennet was orchestrated by Darcy, and thus made me think of Spence’s speculation that Mrs. Anne Lefroy actually orchestrated or supported the idea of Jane Austen visiting Benjamin Langlois in London (to gain his blessings for Jane’s relationship with Tom, though to no avail) was conceivable. Like Mr. Darcy, Mrs. Lefroy regretted her decision to send Tom away to London, and hence tried to make it up. Noble thoughts, despite the failure.

We also know that Jane Bennet received the happy ending Jane Austen could not have: she later married Mr. Bingley and hence became Mrs. Bingley. Jane Austen could not be Mrs. Jane Lefroy… but she could pour her dreams in her novels. Pride & Prejudice, one of them.

It also does not hurt to look at Jane Bennet’s character: a shy and calm girl who was good in concealing her feelings, even to her own sister (unless provoked). Bearing in mind that JA often switched genders, is it not plausible to see Jane Bennet as having Tom Lefroy’s character here; i.e. shy and reserved, and hence difficult for people to read and understand? Of course, I also see Tom’s seriousness in Mr. Darcy, and hence Lizzy’s sharp tongue towards him that mirrored JA mocking and teasing Tom Lefroy. And per my discussion with dear Arnie, I agree that Tom actually loved being teased ;-) for Jane Austen provided him freedom of mind he had not allowed himself so far.

Oh, by the way, I ‘sacrifice’ my lunar eclipse observation (well, part of it) to write this article. I hope you’re happy, Michelle! ;-)


Austen, J. 1813. Pride and Prejudice (2004 edition), Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Faye, D. L. 1997, Jane Austen's Letters, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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

Pic 1: Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley by Jane Odiwe

Pic 2: Meryton Assembly, by Jane Odiwe

Pic 3: Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet in Pride & Prejudice 2005, from Darcysaga

Pic 4: Simon Woods as Charles Bingley in Pride & Prejudice 2005, from Darcysaga

Pic 5: Jennifer Ehle (Lizzy Bennet) and Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy) in
Pride & Prejudice 1995, Wikipedia

Anne and James talking about dancing

Okay Kari, you win :-D

Thanks for the tip, here's a YouTube video of Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy talking about dancing in the 18th century. I've seen the interview with Anne before in Film 2006, but I have not seen James talking about the dance. And oh my God... his accent is soooo sexy!

Enjoy, Ladies and Gents!

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Jane Austen/Tom Lefroy timeline

A few weeks ago, Michelle requested a Jane/Tom timeline, but I was still working on other posts then. Now, particularly after Anthony Lefroy and the Cadell letter revelations, I am more ready to give a Jane/Tom timeline, starting from Jane’s birthday up to Tom’s death. The list is, of course, subjected to changes upon further findings. Special thanks to Arnie as well for his opinions re: Mrs. Lefroy’s letters he wrote in the comment section of Anthony Lefroy.

16 December 1775 : Jane Austen was born in Steventon, Hampshire, England

8 January 1776 : Tom Lefroy was born in Limerick, Ireland
Circa 25 Dec 1795 : Jane and Tom met for the first time in Hampshire.
8 January 1796 : Friday. Jane and Tom danced in Manydown Park
9 January 1796 : Saturday. Jane wrote to Cassandra about Tom and his white coat
15 January 1796 : Friday. Jane and Tom danced in Ashe; something bad happened that made Jane wrote to Cassandra that night, ‘At length the Day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, & when you receive this it will be over –’ (note: the letter postmark is 16 January 1796). The letter is Jane’s last surviving letter that verbally mentioned Tom Lefroy.
No surviving letters of Jane Austen after 15/16 January and before 22 August 1798
22 August 1796 : Monday. Jane and his brothers (Edward and Frank) arrived in London.
23 August 1796 : Tuesday. Jane wrote to Cassandra from Cork Street, London. Le Faye (1997) and Spence (2003) suggested that they stayed at Benjamin Langlois’ house in Cork Street. Spence also suggested that Mrs. Anne Lefroy might be promoting or supporting the idea, perhaps triggered by her guilty feeling over her intervention to Jane and Tom’s romance
No surviving letters of Jane Austen after 18 September 1796 and before 8 April 1798
Easter term 1797 : Tom went back to Ireland and being called to the Bar. He was also engaged with Mary Paul of Silver Spring, Co. Wexford, Ireland during the Easter term. Afterwards, Tom returned to London
1 November 1797 : Mr. Austen offered ‘First Impression’ unsuccessfully to Cadel & Davies, the refusal letter was received immediately
November 1797 : Jane and Cassandra went to Bath and met/accompanied Anne Lefroy and her daughter (Lucy?). It is very likely that Tom also went to Bath
December 1797 : Jane and Cassandra were still in Bath. Very likely, Tom was also there
No surviving letters of Jane Austen after 8 April 1798 and before 24 October 1798
May 1798 : the Irish Rebellion of 1798 broke out in Ireland. Many Wexford gentries took refuge in North Wales, England
5 November 1798 : Monday. Anthony Lefroy married Elizabeth Wilkin; Benjamin Langlois did not approve, hence Anthony was cut off without a penny
Between 5-17 Nov’98 : Tom went to Hampshire, presumably to talk with Anne Lefroy about Anthony and his family in Ireland. It is unlikely that Tom met Jane in Steventon this time; or if he did, Jane’s news of the meeting was filtered by Cassandra
17 November 1978 : Saturday. Jane wrote to Cassandra explaining that Tom ‘was gone back to London in his way to Ireland, where he is called to the Bar and means to practise’ despite her ‘too proud to make any enquiries’. Though Tom did return to Ireland, it is very likely that he did that to discuss the matter of Anthony, instead of dealing with the Bar.
No surviving letters of Jane after 23 January 1799 and before 17 May 1799.
16 March 1799 : Tom Lefroy married Mary Paul at Abergavenny, North Wales, England. Afterwards, Tom resumed his study at Lincoln’s Inn, London
No surviving letters of Jane Austen from 19 June 1799 and before 27 October 1800
1800 : Tom Lefroy joined the Irish Bar
Early October 1800 : Tom and his father Anthony Peter Lefroy visited Ashe, Hampshire (Mrs. Lefroy’s letter#1)
25 October 1800 : Saturday. Jane (Steventon, Hampshire) wrote to Cassandra (Godmersham), ‘I am not yet able to acknowledge the receipt of any parcel from London, which I suppose will not occasion you much surprise. – I was a little disappointed today, but not more than is perfectly agreable; & I hope to be disappointed again tomorrow, as only one coach comes down on sundays.’ Arnie suggested that Jane’s disappointment might be Tom-related.
No surviving letters of Jane Austen after 27 May 1801 and before 14 September 1804
24 June 1802 : Jane Christmas Lefroy, Tom’s second offspring and eldest daughter, was born
2 December 1802 : Harris Bigg-Wither proposed to Jane Austen; Jane received immediately, but refused it the following morning
16 December 1804 : Mrs. Anne Lefroy was killed in a riding accident
21 January 1805 : Revd. George Austen died in Bath
30 October 1811 : Sense & Sensibility was published by Thomas Egerton
28 January 1813 : Pride & Prejudice published
9 May 1814 : Mansfield Park published
8 November 1814 : wedding of Anna Austen and Benjamin Lefroy
30 August 1815 : Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy (TEPL) was born as one of the offspring of Anthony Lefroy and Elizabeth Wilkin. TEPL later became the Judge of County Courts of England. He also played an important role in the Jane/Tom saga.
December 1815 : Emma published by John Murray
Spring 1816 : Jane started to feel unwell
1816 : Tom Lefroy was appointed as King’s Counsel in Ireland
24 May 1817 : Jane and Cassandra moved to Winchester
18 July 1817 : Jane Austen died in Winchester at the age of 41
Post July 1817 : it is likely that Tom Lefroy paid homage to Jane’s grave in Winchester, as suggested by the website of Carrigglas manor
1818 : Northanger Abbey and Persuasion published together with Henry Austen’s ‘Biographical Notice of the Author’. Tom Lefroy was appointed King’s Serjeant.
1836 : after the death of its owners, Cadell & Davies firm was closed
Before 23 Nov 1840 : the sale of Cadell & Davies papers. TEPL obtained the original letter of Mr. Austen to Cadell & Davies, written on 1 November 1797. It is very likely that TEPL acted on behalf of Thomas Langlois Lefroy
November 1841 : Tom Lefroy became the Baron of Exchequer of Ireland
9 September 1846 : TEPL married Jemima Lefroy (daughter of Anna Austen Lefroy and Benjamin Lefroy)
1st day of Easter Term 1852 : Thomas Langlois Lefroy became the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland
January 1858 : death of Mary Lefroy
Between 11 and 24 July 1866 : Chief Justice Lefroy resigned from his position. He then retired to Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, accompanied by daughter Jane Christmas Lefroy
1 April 1869 : Caroline Austen wrote to James Edward Austen-Leigh ‘against raking up that old story of the still living ‘Chief Justice’ – That there was something in it, is true – but nothing out of the common way – (as I beleive). Nothing to call ill usage, & no very serious sorrow endured.’
4 May 1869 : Thomas Langlois Lefroy died at the age of 93
24 May 1869 : Anna Austen Lefroy wrote to Emma Austen-Leigh (JEAL’s wife) negating Caroline’s letter (which was dated 1st April 1869). Sometimes afterwards, JEAL asked TEPL about Tom and Jane
16 December 1869 : A Memoir of Jane Austen was published
16 August 1870 : TEPL wrote to James Edward Austen Leigh about Tom Lefroy’s ‘boyish love’ towards Jane Austen (see Chapman’s Facts and Problems, 1949. I’ve double checked the year, and it was truly in 1870).
1871 : Second edition of A Memoir of Jane Austen
1871 : Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy was published. In the Introduction, there was an old note from Tom Lefroy about his papers on Scriptures. Tom stated that, ‘The papers in this parcel were written at different times from the year 1816, when I first began to have any view of God’s true method of salvation for a sinner. I had from the year 1795, more or less, read the Scriptures, but not with faith – nor as a little child – but in the pride of a Socinian spirit, and consequently I remained long in the dark.’ Tom Lefroy met Jane Austen the first time in 1795; Jane Austen’s first signs of her serious illness began in 1816.

Phew! Now, that’s a long list! Michelle also gave me the link to Ellen Moody’s excellent calendar of Jane Austen’s work; later I will try to cross reference the times in Jane’s novels with the real time of her and Tom as we know so far. Just give me time, and do drop me some suggestions. Thanks!

Chapman, R. W. 1949, Jane Austen: Facts and Problems, Oxford University Press, reprint from 1948, Oxford.
Cranfield, R. E. 1960, From Ireland to Western Australia: The Establishment of a Branch of the Lefroy Family at Walebing, Western Australia, 1842 to 1960, Service Printing Perth.
Faye, D. L. 1997, Jane Austen's Letters, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Faye, D. L. 2002, Jane Austen's Outlandish Cousin – The Life and Letters of Eliza de Feuillide, British Library Publishing Division, London.
Faye, D. l., Austen-Leigh, W. & Austen-Leigh, R. A. 1989, Jane Austen: A Family Record, The British Library, London.
Howard, J. J. & Crisp, F. A. 1973, Visitation of Ireland, Genealogical Publishing Com.
Lefroy, T. 1871, Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy, Hodges, Foster & Co., Dublin.
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.

Pic 1: Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy danced, by Jane Odiwe
Pic 2: Cork Street, by Rachel Kingston
Pic 3: Harris Bigg-Wither, from the Bigg-Wither website
Pic 4: Thomas Langlois Lefroy, circa 1855
Pic 5: 'A Memoir of Jane Austen', by James Edward Austen-Leigh

More BJ music videos

The YouTube is flooded with Becoming Jane music videos now, so I might not be able to post all the links here due to time restriction :-(

But I love this one I found by SilverPetticoat, with 'Once Upon a December' (Anastasia) as the background song. Title of the song truly suited the story of Jane and Tom, who met for the first time in Christmas 1795.

The other one is by Darkangelcaz with Dido's Don't Leave Home.

There is another one I found that used the same Who Knew song with the previous one by Kelseylynn, but I lost the link (found it as I watched in the blog, not in YouTube). Will post it as I find the link.

Another BJ music video and sequel to 'If I Loved You Less'

Dear friends,

Big hugs for Rachel for her beta, here's chapter 2 of If I Loved You Less, where Tom found out about Jane Austen's death. Please read and review, and thanks a lot!

Also, thanks to Kari and Josie for the tips, there is another Becoming Jane music video in YouTube, this time from Kelseylynn00, with 'Who Knew' as the background music.

I especially love sliding the bannister scenes, also many other scenes like Jane walking down the stairs in Lady Gresham's manor while Tom was watching her... and Tom's painful expressions as Jane left her (she was not deprived of suffering, either). Ooohh... l'amour!