July 27, 2007

50: The truth about Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy

Anne Hathaway will be on David Letterman tonight talking about Becoming Jane. And according to my Tivo, she will be on Good Morning America and Live with Regis and Kelly on Wednesday Aug. 1, and on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on Friday Aug. 3. The movie opens nationwide on the 10th. I have a pass to a screening next week, so I'll let you know what my thoughts are when I see it. It looks lovely, just not exactly Jane's story.

Before all the hubbub starts, here's a primer on what happened between Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy. Forgive the long post -- wanted to get this all in one. (You can also see excerpts from Jane's letters to her sister about Tom here.)

50: Jane and Tom

Jane Austen essentially created the chick lit genre. We all know the formula—girl meets guy, girl falls in love with guy, guy breaks her heart, girl meets nicer, better-looking guy with more money and they live happily ever after. Obstacles abound in Austen’s stories—lack of money on the part of the otherwise lovely heroine, meddling family members who pull lovers apart because they disapprove the match—but these things are always overcome by the abundant worth of two good people who truly love each other.

The love stories in Austen’s own life echo these themes, but without the “happily ever after” ending.

Jane’s first love, at twenty, was Tom Lefroy. He was a law student from Ireland, the nephew of her dear friend Anne’s husband, and Anne may have introduced them. We know little about the relationship, really. Much of what we know of Jane’s life is from her letters, but her sister Cassandra burned many and mutilated more before passing them on to nieces and nephews late in her life. Perhaps Cassandra cut out the juiciest bits, or, as Austen expert Deirdre Le Faye suggests, the parts that could have offended one family member or other. Either way, there are gaps.

Jane and Tom spent some time together over the course of a few weeks, over Christmas and New Year's. He was fairly serious, quiet and very good—maybe a balance for Jane’s energetic humor. They bantered over Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, and after a ball, Jane wrote jokingly to Cassandra of “everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together.” She writes about how Tom is given a hard time in the Lefroy household for the attachment, so that when she pays a visit he manages to hide. But he would pay her another visit, as was the custom, to thank her for partnering him at the ball, and the only fault she could really find with him was that his morning coat was “a great deal too light.”

There is much debate these days about just how in love Jane was with Tom, and how much this relationship influenced her writing. Some say it was just a flirtation—clearly, in Jane’s letters, she is being sarcastic, they say. To me she writes like there is some depth to her feelings, in spite of trying to laugh them off. “I rather expect to receive an offer from my friend in the course of the evening,” she writes of their last meeting. “I shall refuse him, however, unless he promises to give away his white coat.” She sounds a little bit like my friends and I as well, telling stories of a romance that fell into the middle of a life that was largely without romantic interest, making much of a little thing. Yet, it’s easy to imagine her being teasing and sharp with Tom.

Tom was from a good family but not wealthy. His father had been in the army. He was the oldest son, but it was a large family, eleven children with five daughters ahead of him, and he was made to feel that the future of the family was on his shoulders. He was expected to do well, to do much. Though the attachment seems to have been mutual, Anne and her husband stepped in and quickly sent Tom home. The family history is that Anne Lefroy was forever frustrated with Tom over this, his leading Jane on when he knew there was no chance he could propose.

Tom eventually married someone with an appropriately large fortune, had seven children, and went on to become Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He was no Darcy—not heir to great estates or wealth—but clearly his family had expectations Jane did not meet. If Jane wrote about family interference, she learned it firsthand. Tom may have adored her and she him but she hadn’t enough money to qualify. Most likely Jane never saw him again.

When it ended, Jane wrote to Cassandra: “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—My tears flow as I write, at the melancholy idea.” She was joking, of course. How deeply she felt the joke we will never really know. But her heart had been engaged for likely the first time.

No doubt this relationship and her repartee with Tom fueled her writing. Whether it was "her greatest inspiration" as the trailers for Becoming Jane claim, well, that's debatable. But I'm sure it provided as spark.



Excerpted from my book, A Walk with Jane Austen. Read more at www.followingausten.com or read the first chapter online.








Check out the new Jane Austen's England Calendar for 2009! Featuring pictures of the places Jane lived, loved and wrote about, including Steventon, Chawton, Box Hill, Bath, Lyme, Winchester.

Also includes dates from Jane's life -- the writing and publishing of each of the books, dancing with Tom Lefroy, the moves to Bath and Chawton ... and much more!




Sources:
Jane Austen's Letters (ed. Deirdre Le Faye)
Jane Austen: A Family Record (Deirdre Le Faye)
Jane Austen: A Life (Claire Tomalin)

Picture is of Ashe House, Anne Lefroy's home.

84 Comments:

Blogger Ms. Place said...

Like so many romances of one's youth, this one probably faded from Jane's mind as a sweet but distant memory. Wonderful post.

7/30/2007 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Interesting post... thank you! I just saw Becoming Jane last night and thought is was only OK. It was like a Jane Austen movie, yet without Jane's spark of language (which made me realize how important words are to her stories, as well as the best adaptations).

It's intriguing that you post that she may have been joking or sarcastic when speaking of Tom. Could you imagine someone going through your letters in 200 years, and attaching a great romance to a trifling flirtation that you may not remember within 20 years. Interesting theory!

8/02/2007 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Yes -- or going through emails. Argh! I think only Cassandra knew what Jane was really thinking, but I'm sure she had a crush, and agree with Ms. Place -- it probably became a good but distant memory.

8/02/2007 05:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you do any research on Thomas LeFroy you will find that he was so affected by Jane that he named his first daughter after her and he went to her funeral. He also purchased a rejection letter for Pride and Prejudice. I believe the love was mutual and never forgotten.

9/03/2007 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it fascinating that Lefroy's daughter's middle name was Christmas. I wonder at that coincidence. I think it is the Jane in me that hopes it is significant

9/05/2007 04:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Lori Smith said...

I'd be genuinely interested to know the source of your info. Jane was a family name I believe for both the Lefroys and for his wife's family, so I'm not sure if that means anything. I'm sure he was not at her funeral. It wasn't like you would think of a funeral today -- it was just several of her brothers and one nephew.

9/06/2007 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the note of Jane being a family name, it is important to note that Jane was also the name of Tom's mother-in-law.

9/09/2007 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder at our being so jaded in present day society. I am confused by the notion that just because "you"(collectively) forget things, that it stands to reason that we all do. Jane Austen strikes me as a profound, deeply feeling and "ironic" person. I find it difficult to imagine that she might forget something at all significant, like her first love. (if Tom was). It does seem likely that someone like Tom (if not Tom) could have or would have been her inspiration.
I am a romantic as well as a realist. Looking through both sets of goggles, I find it hard to believe that she would have such an understanding of the human condition, without experiencing it firsthand. So I guess that the romantic in me chooses to believe that she did have someone that she loved like that, and that loved her with that passion as well.

9/12/2007 10:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is rather interesting is a custom during that era of naming first-born daughters after their mothers. Read JA's books and you will find that in most cases the eldest daughters bear their mother's first names. It would have followed, therefore, that Mary LeFroy's first daughter should have been named Mary and a Jane would have appeared later in the line-up. It says something to me of Tom LeFroy's love for Jane that that custom was broken by naming their first-born after perhaps his first love. It may have been subtly convenient that the mother-in-law's name was Jane as well, and that may have been his selling point to his wife. As I am a romantic and believe that Tom LeFroy and Jane Austen meant much to each other, I choose the unrequited love view of the naming of the baby girl.

In any event, I loved the movie, can't quit listening to the soundtrack and love all things Jane. A Janeite

9/14/2007 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes it may seem that it was only a flirtation between tom and jane but why, would she put so much emotion and thought into her books if they werent something she had experienced. yea she may have tweaked the end of it to turn out the way she wanted it too, but could you honestly think that someone could write wonderful books of such romance and not have been someone who had experienced it forehand. I dont know exactly why tom named his daughter jane, maybe to think of her more or maybe to think of her less. You never know. tom maybe named his daughter after her because he truely did love her and he wasnt ready to let her go. And if you ask me if they really were in love like the movie describes then i dont think that jane nor tom could forget eachother. imagine if you were them, say they were in love like the movie lead on, would you forget about the first man/woman you loved. And to remeber eachother by she dedicated mr darcys character to him and for her he name his first girl after her.

Yes i know its hard to picture that someone could be in love for so long. but can you honestly say you dont miss your first love.

who knows we all could be intirely wrong, but in my opinion i think we all have a little bit of it right. the letters, the characters, the name. i mean it all does fit. think about it. they really did love eachother i think.

but then again like i said, we all could be wrong.

9/20/2007 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Appreciate your thoughts. I think the thing we have to remember is that the movie was a movie, and by definition took liberties not only with what we know of the story but also modernized it to appeal to viewers, to make sense to 21st-century romantics. We will never really know. I do think this experience helped to inspire Jane's writing, but also that she had such a wonderful imagination, that feeling a bit of something she could have easily imagined more.

9/27/2007 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Crys said...

I love this article, although I am of course a little disappointed because I imagined that there would be more information about Jane Austen and Thomas Lefroy like Becoming Jane-the movie I watched last night, I still think this article helped alot. =) thanks!

9/28/2007 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed the article is responsible and safe in that it doesn't jump into romantic conclusions (which would make things more colorful!). But nonetheless, Jane and Tom's flirtation, serious or not, has awakened in me (and maybe some of you) a desire for purity in love - that which crosses circumstance and generations.

9/30/2007 01:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Jane D said...

A good article for certain. People are often so touched that the temptation to have a daily reminder it is irrespressible. I am named after my mother's prize possession, her doll, Jane. Believe it or not I look like her too.

And from my own personal experience, being touched by love as Jane may have been is both uplifting and tormenting.

Becoming Jane has made me thankful and grateful about the choices I have as a women 2007.

10/04/2007 07:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have recently seen the movie - becoming Jane,and i have to point out the uncanny likeness between the lead actor James McAvoy and Thomas Lefroy. I researched a liitle after watching the movie and found only 1 picture of Tom and was surprised of the facial similarities!
I can understand peoples views of the movie being modernized, from my perspective, certinaly in the english language and words used. however when love can be made modernised to fit the 21st century i dont agree, how can love or flirtation be portrayed simplier? Simplier to us poeple, people like Jane and Tom, to love or like and feel torment that love can produce is natural, therefore i believe only the comunication between the two was modernised. But not the feelings. Im sure we can all relete to the story of Jane and Tom in one way or another........

10/22/2007 07:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I somewhat agree with everyone. Although I haven't read any Jane Austin books, the movie intrigued me enough to pick them up and start reading.

Either way, Jane's work has run its course. She wanted to spark some kind, ANY kind of emotion in her readers, maybe to resemble whatever emotion she was experiencing, and she has certainly done that through her work.

The extent of how far the "flirtation" between Tom and her went will forever be open ended, but I think that she would've wanted it that way. In a sense, it gives us the opportunity to choose our own endings to her story.

Becoming Jane shows the complexity, yet the simplicity of life and love in that era...I loved the movie and I choose to believe that Lefroy and Austen's love was real. =)
Then again, i'm die hard for chick flicks.

11/08/2007 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous offended Austenite :-) said...

Either way, Jane's work has run its course

I am sorry but this sentence has my blood boiling. Ran its course? Is that why every 10 years they come up with a new movie version of her books? Is that why a book that has Mr Darcy's name in it, or anything that has to do with him , almost a guarantee for increase in sales?


Jane Austen's stories though depecting English society as it was 200 years ago, have a lot more depth and universality to them. They are not just love stories though the love story is an important part of the book. And they most definitely are not chick-lit!!!

Her books transcend Regency England and the Regency romance genre. They are social satires of marriages and social norms at the time but also of human nature in general. How many people do we know or hear of in the 21st century that marry for money and financial arrivism. How many people we know that are prejudiced, proud , medling, stupid , dramatic, kind, loving, dependable? All these are descriptions of characters that JA has written about. So you see her books have not run their course yet.

As long as there will be human beings, Jane Austen's stories will remain current and a delight to read.

12/25/2007 01:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that if Jane did have a love for Tom that did not end happliy ever after, it would increase her desire to leave her characters with the happy ending she longed for.

2/22/2008 02:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The love which two hearts can hold is unmatchable. If it was a great mutal love, it could not have been thought about as selfish. These two had the right to make their own life of marriage real. They should have eloped like in the movie, I would have. Money is the root of all evil and it kept their love seperated. He who does not love, does not know God. It's about love, not money. Trust God, he works things out for the good.

2/22/2008 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just watched Becoming Jane and cannot help but wonder whether I would run away with Tom. How could you not?!

2/24/2008 03:03:00 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/25/2008 04:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Out of "ardent admiration" for Jane Austen's work, I refuse to see Tom Lefroy as her great love lost. I'm sure they felt some connection, but for her works to be rooted in a few weeks of her own life greatly diminishes how I understand her talent, imagination, and craftsmanship. Rather, I would like to think of Jane as someone who can imagine and try to make sense of what she does not know rather than rewriting her own life as she wished it could have been. It was actually my refusal to believe the Becoming Jane story that brought me here.

2/25/2008 04:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i loved the movie
it was so sad
i cried so hard
i would have ran away w him
but she loved him so much knowing that if he did his family would not be supported and she knew that that would tear his family apart
it was sad and when you think about it it isnt fair
jane deserved to be happy
and so did tom
if 2 ppl love eachother so much
they should be together
but life isnt fair and we dont always get what we want
even if we are the greatest writer to ever live
and admired by women and men all over the country
sometimes we dont get to be with the ppl we love and it hurts but knowing that she wrote the most amazing love stories (whether they came from influences in her life or not), she lived a life for what she believed in which was not heard of and since she did not marry even for affection or no affection like wisley said she was brilliant and she deserved to be happy
whether she lived her life with the man of her dreams or not wasnt what matter it didnt make her life
her writing did!

2/25/2008 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tom might have name his daughter after his mother-in-law but something that stood out to me when i read about them after i saw the movie was his first daughter's name was Jane Christmas Lefroy

not Christmas
the very first time tom met jane was right around christmas and new year
i know that he loved her
he named her that because of his love for jane

he had to marry in able to support his family they needed him and jane told him that he loved her and the feeling was mutual but after they were seperated(whenever it happened)they were madly in love and he might've loved his wife but not as strongly as his first love jane!

after the first time they were taken away from eachother it is not known if they ever saw eachother again but it is noted that after jane died of addison's disease he went to her auction and bought the refusal letter, that was sent to her when she first sent First Impressions (Pride and Prejudice) to be published, in order to always remember her!

2/25/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tom might have name his daughter after his mother-in-law but something that stood out to me when i read about them after i saw the movie was his first daughter's name was Jane Christmas Lefroy

not Christmas
the very first time tom met jane was right around christmas and new year
i know that he loved her
he named her that because of his love for jane

he had to marry in able to support his family they needed him and jane told him that he loved her and the feeling was mutual but after they were seperated(whenever it happened)they were madly in love and he might've loved his wife but not as strongly as his first love jane!

after the first time they were taken away from eachother it is not known if they ever saw eachother again but it is noted that after jane died of addison's disease he went to her auction and bought the refusal letter, that was sent to her when she first sent First Impressions (Pride and Prejudice) to be published, in order to always remember her!

2/25/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is just the fact that i adored the movie and am a hopeless romantic myself, but i choose to believe that Jane and Tom's love was pure. I percieve Jane as such a deep and intuitive person that i find it hard to believe that the memory of her first love would have just faded away. I think that if not based on, her books were inspired by her love with Tom. Then again we will never really know for sure. Anyways interesting post.

3/01/2008 08:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a reference in the bonus features that states a grand daughter of Tom Lefroy's asked him near the time of his death if the rumored love between him and Jane Austen was true, and he admitted he had been in love with her. There is no detailed information on where this fact comes from.

3/05/2008 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Jane had married and led a more conventional life, it is doubtful that we would have these wonderful books. It's selfish and unkind, but perhaps we should be grateful that she was disappointed in love.

3/15/2008 11:47:00 PM  
OpenID velvetspryte said...

One of my friends said that watching Becoming Jane made her think of Bridges of Madison County.

It's the love that is thwarted in some way that is remembered and held onto for years. The summer or holiday flirtation that dies off after parting is forgotten and becomes a lovely memory. The love like the one personified in Becoming Jane where one leaves the other through unselfish reasons, and because they love the other so much is always remembered, and treasured. The movie takes licenses, as movies do on historical things of which there is little true account to go by. However, in the movie I believe his heart and soul were hers, as he claimed, even if his body could not be.
And if, in actuality, the family was upset at him for leading Jane on when nothing could come of it... sometimes when you are in love, you can't help yourself. Even if your head knows nothing can come of it, your heart can't seem to help itself. And in that case, sending someone away is the only way to bring a halt to such things. And so that, in itself, could be telling.

As for the naming of his daughter Jane, well... names weren't as varied back then as they are these days. The main female names of the time were ones like Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Anne, Catherine, and half a dozen others. So it is hard to make the argument with certainty that she was named for Ms. Austen. Although Christmas would be an unusual middle name for the time, and would certainly give some credence to the idea.

Lastly, trying to decipher Jane's feelings through her letters. We often cover our true feelings about someone when we write or talk with sarcasm or light humor, such as finding something so small as a morning coat color to trifle with. With her letters being so cut up, and so little to work with, it's hard to say for sure either way. For my part, I would hope that she did have the experience of loving and being loved so completely as she was in this movie. It's heartbreaking, yes, and I cried a river. But it's better than not having experienced love at all, or only through your pen.

3/23/2008 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Lori said...

Re: what Tom Lefroy said later in life, he admitted that he loved Jane with "a boyish kind of love." Check out Dierdre Le Faye's Jane Austen: A Family Record for more info.

Also, I believe Christmas was a family name as well.

4/03/2008 04:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly, Becoming Jane was a beautiful movie, one of which I can truly say is one of my favorite. The love of Tom towards Jane seemed truly pure and as the movie portrayed everlasting. I do, however, wonder if it really happed that way...It is far fetched to think that Jane would have been able to write about something so profound in such a way, without having experienced it first hand.
In my heart I truly hope that Jane did love someone in such a way, and that someone loved her back. It is....I don’t know...unreal! To believe that Jane didn’t love. Maybe that’s my opinion or what I choose to believe. But, truly think about it. Can someone "explain" love without ever haveing experienced it in suvh a profound way?

4/03/2008 07:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Liam Hanley said...

Tom Lefroy was born at 108 George St, in Limerick ( now O'Connell St ). After a short affair with jane Austin he went on to become the Chief Justice of Ireland.

4/07/2008 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

After watching Becoming Jane I had to buy it, I absolutely fell in love with the movie. I never write anything on the internet, but I stumbled on this site after googling Tom Lefroy and couldn't resist. After reading all the posts, we all have one thing in common, we have come to our own conclusion, our own ending. Even though everyone doesn't always agree with everyone else's conclusion we all have our endings that we want. To me, I think that Jane and Tom not only thought about but loved each other until the end of their lives. I also think Jane's greatest love in her life was her writing and family, especially her sister. I love romantic stories, with the best endings and the ones I never saw coming. If they, Jane and Tom, did get married and have their lovely life together, we wouldn't be here. Isn't it great that we get the chance to make our own ending for them?

4/15/2008 09:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a horribly sad ending! I sure hope that girl really never had to go through such anguish, but to think about it, they could have made it happen, eventually, right?

4/24/2008 03:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I relate to the happy and sad story. This movie was awesome. I just watched it again for the 3rd time. You never forget your 1st love. At times, we have to leave our first love for the peace and happiness of both families, as in my case. I believe Tom and Jane were truly in love. Sometimes stories don't have happy endings. Sad, but true. J.C.

5/02/2008 04:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Yetta Jane said...

It must also be noted that tom named his first doughter after jane, and that they were almost wed. To me that states that the love ran true and was not a bit a play or act. i even hope that one day i will find my own Tom.

5/09/2008 10:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all are affected by the crushes we have in our youth...she may have been 20 but remember 20 then was not like 20 today ...do you remember the boy you liked and thought you loved at 15?.I do but we both moved on and it becomes part of you but not the driving force. Tom told his nephew he had a "boyish love"..that sounds about right.

7/12/2008 04:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Becca M said...

I agree with many of the things posted here. But I do ask you this, why are we seriously trying to analyze if someone loved someone else. Is it not an everyday thing? When you think about it aren't there people today that are so greatly impacted by another person that they would use that person as a character in a book? Does it really seem that far out there? Kudos to Jane and Tom if they did love eachother. If it was just an "in the moment" sort of romance then that's fantastic that both of them got to experience something as powerful as young love. As for Tom naming his daughter after Jane well, that's amazingly romantic and thoughtful if you think about it. I saw the movie and loved it. If half the people in the world could experience something as great as what Jane and Tom had in the movie then the world might be a lot nicer and very much different. I only wish that Jane would of gotten married and had a family but then she wouldn't of been the amazing woman and writer that she was. I am truely inspired by Jane Austen and commend her on her morals and charisma!

7/23/2008 02:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Jacqueline said...

I would like to say something about what Becca M wrote. I think (well, my reason) why we are nit picking their relationship, because we are hopeless romantics, we get to make the ending. Yes, there are people all over the world falling in love, and there always will be. But we don't know about everyone, we do get to make our own conclusion about what might have happened with Tom and Jane. It is the one of the best things you get to experience in life, falling in love. We just get the privilege to fantasize what might have happened behind closed doors or the thoughts they had, because we know about it. I think its wonderful that we all have this in common. We are making up our own endings for them, turning their endings into the endings we want (well I want) to have in our lives. I don't think there can ever be a right or wrong opinion.

7/23/2008 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Tara said...

What incredible power Jane had that she can still make us daydream and yearn after all of these years. I agree that it is better not to know the truth of her attachment to Tom, we can decide for ourselves whether it was a harmless flirtation, or a life long love. I like to think Jane would have wanted it that way. Placing too much importance on a few lines in her letters could be misleading, although the descriptions of her flirting and upset upon his departure leave many unanswered questions. As we will never know, there is no point in arguing about it. Through research, I have also found mentions of Tom's travelling from Ireland to attend Jane's funeral, and buying up her rejection letter; strange actions for a 'harmless flirtation' from the past. Who knows, perhaps their love did last... It's wonderful to see so many others infatuated with Jane's words!

8/05/2008 12:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I adore Jane Austen's books. Becoming Jane makes me cry everytime I watch it. I don't know if Tom and Jane were serious about each other or not, or what actually happened. All I know is I wish they could have married. The Movie is good. But so Sad. ...Perhaps that's why it's so good.

8/18/2008 05:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Jessica, Austen fan said...

I might make some of you unhappy but I have to say it. I did not like Becoming Jane at all! In her books and movies the main men are honorable and would rather do the right and noble thing above all else! They made Tom a wild, careless, womanizing man that I would never want or think was desirable!!! He might be handsome but lacked good character,(in the movie) wich I really believe mattered to Jane. I don't have any desire to see this movie again. I'll put Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, or maybe Emma in instead.

8/22/2008 10:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But Becoming Jane, was based on her life. Her books, SHE wrote. Someone else wrote Becoming Jane. Of course the men in her books were great, but thats because she made them that way when writing them. There is not much to know about her history, because from what I have learned, her family destroyed many of her letters and she wasn't even really know as a writer, because her name wasn't on her books. So when Jon Spence wrote the book Becoming Jane, he obviously got as close to the truth as he could, with the limited information that any of us have. After I saw the movie, I looked into Jane and Tom's history, but there really isn't much that we know. But in real life sometimes the guy is wild, careless, and womanizing, even when you don't want them to be.

8/23/2008 05:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am a hopeless romantic. I enjoyed the movie "Becoming Jane" but was more interested in wanting to know the real Jane Austen.

I too want to believe that the love was real, but thank you Lori Smith for helping to keep our feet on the ground.

Fantasy must always give way to truth.

9/02/2008 05:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so obvious to me that the love was mutual on both sides. In any case, even the most critical of commenters must admit their time together was at the very least memorable for both. He named his daughter Jane Christmas. As a constant reminder of his time with Jane over that Christmas? Perhaps. She writes of the 5 Bennett daughters...inspired by Tom's five sisters she never met, but surely must have thought of? So many telling coincidences.

And then we all sigh and wonder what if they did end up together, so happy? Would we have the opportunity to enjoy all her wonderful, immortal words that touch our souls? No. It would all have been so anticlimactic. As if the Titanic's distress signals had not been ignored and the Carpathia had gotten there so much sooner.

Once, in 1912 there was almost this complete tragedy...

Could Jane Austen have ever imagined in her wildest dreams that even now, we are all going back and forth over what really happened with Tom Lefroy?

9/18/2008 02:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol27no1/walker.htm

Thia is a good article to read :)

9/29/2008 04:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across this article when researching a school project(on jane austen). I saw the movie a year ago and have been intrigued by the idea of Jane and Tom ever since. I bought the book it was based on (Becoming Jane Austen: A Life By: Jon Spence), and am still thouroughly convinced that Jane and Tom must have felt passionate feelings for each other.
This was a very helpful and interesting article. :)

11/04/2008 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Thank you Lisa for your thoughtful and sensitive detective work. What an incredible thing, to learn all about Jane's life in person in England! I'm a hopeless romantic and HUGE fan of Ms. Austen's. Just watched "Becoming Jane" for the first time. Always interesting to learn to what extent a film like this takes various liberties with the plot.

11/09/2008 02:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Holly said...

This was one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen...and I'm NOT a teenager. The looks that pass between Jane and Tom during the ball are enough to melt ice! The attraction is real and palpable...but propriety demands proper behavior.
After the ball....when Tom tells Jane "I'm yours. Heart and soul. I'm yours.".....I think women all over the world have longed to hear that from a man they love. Too few men make that kind of open declaration.
No one will ever know the truth between Jane and Tom....but I prefer and want to believe it was LOVE! Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy make you want to believe it.....and so I do!

11/11/2008 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous John Paul said...

Though a newbie to the world of Jane Austen,I too found the movie tear-jerkingly romantic, and I am not prone to that condition. There is definately something going on with Ms. Austen, and this movie prompted me to find out more. Interesting that they mentioned the novel "Tom Jones", one of my favorite movies from long ago. Then decades later I see "Pride and Prejudice", spellbinding. Now I see the connection with Jane's life,the period clearer, her uniqueness and bravery in those times, and am further enthralled. Guess I got some more reading and watching to do. Bring back the Horses, the Green, Bring Back the Rain!

11/23/2008 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for everything! Just watched the movie and had to do some research into whether or not Jane and Tom's romance had any significant weight.

Clearly they had some kind of connection in their youth. Whether it was a blip on their charts or an emotion that never left them we will never know. But of one thing I'm sure. Jane, in her books and more than likely in her life, understood the feelings of a "first love". Who among us can ever forget our first touch or the first kiss of someone you not only were attracted to but also genuinely liked. Those feelings, those memories never truly fade away.

Yes we oftentimes move on, and find others who bring to us the same if not more of that emotional intensity. But it's the first one that we remember, it's the first one that inspires us.

Thanks Jane and Tom!

11/29/2008 02:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is enough evidence to prove that there was a spark between Jane and Tom, but not enough to suggest that they were "in love". From the research I have done, Jane's letters do appear to be somewhat humorous/sarcastic when referring to Tom. I dislike the movie in that it leads people to believe the story it tells and half of it is made up.
Also, it is said that Tom indeed did attend Jane's funeral, and the naming of his first daughter is still questioned by Austen fans, there is nothing definite in the stories of the affair between Tom Lefroy and Jane Austen, so i do hope you enthusiasts do not mind disappointment.

12/15/2008 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So i'm going to rant a bit. I've just watched the movie, and I've never cryed so hard in my whole life. The fact that Tom named his first child after Jane is what really set me off. He must of still loved her after all that time I think. But it just.. didn't work out. It just hurts to think that even if no matter how much you love somebody, it doesn't mean its going to work. And she ended up never getting married. Ugh. It just makes me so upset and makes me think that I'll be alone for the rest of my life too:S

12/20/2008 10:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is difficult to know what spent, in the epoch, for little information that exists, and because it is impossible to know what they were thinking. I believe that maybe Tom Lefroy was the love of his life, something like his twin soul. Though Tom says that it was a love of youth, I am sure that he always wanted it (I read what when she died he went to his burial and a lot of time remained opposite to his tomb. And I do not believe that Tom was marrying another woman because it loved her (we know all for that he married) Under my point of view I believe that Jane always looked for something of Tom Lefroy in other men and on not having found it it she remained alone, sometimes the destination is hard and cruel and separates us from the dear person, the good thing is that this one will not be able to change your feelings unless you want. But clear we all have a love that marks us, and it is what happened to Jane with Tom, as says a Spanish saying:
"El primer amor nunca se olvida"
"The first love never forgets".
(I am Spanish ^^)

(Sorry for my English, I am learning, and the majority of the text is the write in translation).

1/07/2009 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Gabriella L. said...

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa What i can say is that this movie made me feel sad. It allways happen to me when i watch theese kind of films. It´s like im empty.. i need it in my life, so i get depressed thinking about others love stories. Ever the same. I watch a movie like "amor e inocencia" (Becoming Jane, i´m brazilian), then i sit in front of the computer and look for information about the movie, actors, more and more. I do it until i see another movie.. ahn feel the same about it. Maybe it is happening becouse im a teenager girl..
Well, in my opinion we all feel curious, and want to know the truth because the film got into our hearts. She was an special woman, like all of us! Her skill -fantastic skill- was writting. The only thing i want is to feel a reaaally deep love.. and i hope you find it too!

1/12/2009 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Tania Joy said...

I must say I adore Jane Austen stories but I have never researched Jane Austen or been concerned about what kind of life she lead other than obvously realising that she lived in a time when women did not have the choices and power that we do today.

I realised until I saw this film that I had always assumed that Jane Austen had married. I think this is because I also made the assumption that you could not possibly write so profoundly about love if you have never felt it.

Following watching this film I can completely understand that everyone desperately wants to believe that Jane and Tom adored one another and were madly in love and seperated by their circumstances however I remain unconvinced by this.

I believe that perhaps Jane must have fallen in love at some point in her life in order to be able to write so fabulously about love. Whether the person she loved was Tom Lefroy will forever remain a mystery.

That Cassandra points in my mind to her protecting her sister/bestfriends reputation but no one can ever know what was in those letters or who they were about.

'Becoming Jane' is a beautiful film which I shall continue to enjoy and I shall recommend to any fan of a tragic love story.

2/09/2009 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great discussion of Jane Austen and her feelings. Very interesting, no question.
But - let´s go out and flirt and search for love in our lives. or we will end like Jane Austen (Who I really adore).

3/04/2009 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for gabriella - yes, I know exactly, what you are talking about. I also love to watch movies, and some good movies really inspire me and I begin to search for background information. for days I have to think of the music in the movie, of the characters. and I want to live in this place, this century the movie happens. I also know this feelings from reading a good book (what I did more often before I bought a dvd-player). Then my own life (which is quite good) seems so flat. And I wish some of the movies´ spirit could become true. But I don´t think this is because you are a teenager. I am almost thirty years old. I think we all have the deep wish in us to find, feel and live the perfect love. the love that lasts to eternity. and when we watch the movies, we get an impression, how this love could be. but we always have to think that it is not real. it is the reason that movies are made for: to have a contrast to our own life. not in a depressing way. to give us hope, to give us energy for our life and our relationships. we only must not make the mistake and loose ourselves in those created realities of the movies.
did jane austen and thomas lefroy really fall in deep, everlasting love? who knows. I think they had warm thoughts for each other their lifes long. and this must be enough for us.
I for my part will stay a book- and movie junkie. although I like my own life. and maybe there will be a big love once after all those frogs. or maybe I should have watched the frogs better, who knows.

3/04/2009 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From a Miss Jane Austen fan

I would never watch or buy that Film Becoming Jane for it was nothing like the Real Miss Jane Austen and if i had my way it would never been made and the stupid Lost in Austen Drama which should also should never been Married.
If you are to write sequels to Miss Jane Austen Novels read them first and stop ending things that Mr Darcy wouldnot do.
May be it is time that people leave Miss Jane Austen alone if you are can not treat her with a respect.

3/18/2009 07:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From A Miss Jane Austen Fan

When i sent the one before i forgot to check the spellings before it was sent.
So this is what it was ment to say.
I would never watch or buy that Film becoming Jane for it was nothing like the real Miss Jane Austen.
If i had my way it would had never been made and the other stupid one is the ITV drama Lost in Austen which also should never been made.
If you are these womane that write Pride and Prejudice Sequels stop adding sex in the novel which Miss Jane Austen would never had liked to happen to her dear novel.
May be it is time that people leave Miss Jane Austen alone if you can not even respect her novels.
Another thing may be someone by the name Lori Smith read more books about Miss Jane Austen before she trys to write a book about her.
Miss Jane Austen never meet a gentleman in Devon it was Lyme so get it right before you think you should write a book on Miss Jane Austen.
What was wrong with Kaira Knightley playing the part of Miss Jane Austen for she is more like her then The person that played her.

3/18/2009 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

huhhh, did you know her?
nobody of us will ever know how jane austen really was. we can read out parts of her personality from her letters and novels, but this will never be objective, not from our view. we can only try to come near the person, but it will never fit. and so for everybody of us other aspects will be important. maybe this are aspects which have nothing to do with the real jane austen.
but i never feel that somebody does this without respect.

4/17/2009 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A word about Tom Lefroy not being wild, etc. In the movie, at least (I have not read Jon Spence's book)Tom admires the book Tom Jones. In that book, the hero is a passionate, big hearted fellow that gets into various scrapes and who makes love to various women. He eventually falls in love with one and devotes himself to her. The author of Tom Jones, Henry Fielding, seems to be prefer his warm-hearted often-foolish hero over those with colder, calculating hearts.

4/21/2009 08:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Hilay said...

Whether or not it was love or a mere flirtation, they still had feelings for each other. You always remember people whom you have strong feelings for. How many of you forget your boyfriends/girlfriends or old crushes? Becoming Jane was beautiful as a movie, but probably was not truth. As many of you have already said this "relationship" between the two probably gave Jane some first hand experience, but probably wasn't the only experience, but most likely she watched people in her area. How people behaved in social situations depending on their social standings, courtship and love.

I still believe the story of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy is still a good one. Depending on how you look at it.

Nice article by the way! Lots of good information! :)

4/26/2009 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Unaboomer said...

Hope this is not a REPEAT - i'm just signing up...
I just watched Becoming Jane on DVD, and read this post. In my opinion, such sarcasm is often camo for true feelings. Is 20-year-old love valid? As valid as any. I confess i still love a man from 30 years ago. My journals are not unlike Jane's. I am also a writer, and Jane and I share a birthday (with Beethoven of course. ) I do not hang on astrology, but Jane is definitely a kindred spirit. I was married for a very short time - but being mated to a man has eluded me before and since. I think, in my old age, i understand Jane's heart a little bit. I think the love affair was real in both hearts - bittersweet.

I have a soulmate and we are not together, and i will never have an experience like that again. It was unique. In my town is a woman who never married - she was so in love with my brother and could not get over it. Tom Lefroy clearly never stopped loving Jane, in my opinion. I myself broke many a young man's heart. :) I am beginning to blog at Xanga - i must figure out how to maximize my need to write and communicate. My handle is Unaboomer. Thank you for the post, i enjoyed it, and the insight. God Bless all. Unaboomer.

5/28/2009 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Unaboomer said...

I've read a few more comments, forgive if this becomes a double post. But i must say - i can count up about four men in my lifetime (i am in my 50's, mind you) who really stayed with me. These men could easily inspire novels and poems. I am a singer/songwriter and have written ballads to men i have not seen in years. The FEELINGS are the thing - the men (women) go off and you don't even think about them - but you retain the essence of the experience, and YES, it is enough to germinate numerous novels, if you have a romantic heart - which i myself do. I would NOT be surprised if this brief interlude with Tom Lefroy remained a major inspiration, especially since it was left in that 'fairy tale' state - surreal - both parties forever young.

When i write, i often harken back to some lovely/torturous state and feeling of infatuation. In fact, if i choose to write a love song - I MUST go back several years, for i am 'retired' from loving in that way.

I agree with the comments about God being The One Who supplies our needs of the soul. Definitely. I have turned to God more and more, as i believe we all must. I would never again give myself carnally out of wedlock, and i see the loose giving of sexual 'favors' as detrimental in most cases. The end is usually heartbreak and shame and some sense of loss. Thank you for allowing me to express my opinions, tho they may differ from others. Thank you.

5/28/2009 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

I read the Jane novels in my teens and twenties, weeping and huzzahing over all the entanglements and efforts of her characters. Finding true inspiration to look deeper into the motives and character of the people around me. To ask myself why a person would act in such a way. To put myself in their shoes so to speak.

But reading them again after being a wife and mother for many years, I have to say Austen seems a bit flat. It's almost the bittersweet cusp of knowing something truly great that gives her novels such a charge of expectation. She writes of anticipation, not just of love but of knowing life and people, of knowing oneself. I don't believe she ever had a great and abiding love, because the loves that she writes of are of joyous fanatical beginnings. Love is so much more.

That is what I liked about the movie, a portrayal of a woman who came up to a choice of true risk and sacrifice for love and turned away from it. In the movie, the character Jane spoke of Tom's responsibilities and the line from her father -'poverty can kill the greatest spirit' effectively shows us that she chose not to engage in real and abiding love. Whether it was with Tom or not, the author of Becoming Jane made his point about her inability to go beyond her known world. She chose not to engage in life but to sit back and observe it.

There are realities and restraints that applied to woman of her time that would make love unions disastrous. And the character Jane just starts to touch upon those realities in her speech to Tom at the pub, -that it can be crushed by very bad situations. And in her turning away, not trying because she knew the risks, she lost her chance to find out how one overcomes those hardships.

Love that becomes the marrow of your bones and beat of your heart lives through the fires of hardship. It grows stronger and deeper. It becomes more mundane and yet more primitive than anything that Austen touches upon. And I speak not of just romantic love, but of the love for fellow mankind despite it's vulgarities and complications.

Austen captures the first blush of love and then stops. Many have copied her since because they are wonderful stories. But I do wonder what great love stories she could have written if she'd been able to to take the next step and not turn back to rewrite life in a more orderly fashion.

6/10/2009 05:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Emma said...

I see what you mean about the first glimpse of love, but I do not think that if I were the movie OR the real Jane, my life would have ended up differently. In the movie, it seems as if the reason (to me) that Jane turns back is that she finds out about Tom's family. If I were her, I would not want to live with the guilt of having starved his family. (which is the possible outcome that seemed to be presented, forgive me: I saw it a while ago). As far as the real Jane goes, I do not think she seemed to have as much of a say in the matter as the movie Jane did. We do not know if she had the chance or invitation to elope with him, but I doubt it.

I am a teenager, and I think that, although for you the stories may seem incomplete because you say they do not speak of a knowing and tested love, to me they represent my state in life. I am still waiting, still hoping, still imagining the possibilities. So, whether or not the books contain this tested and true love, they are true and meaningful to me.

On the topic of whether or not they truely loved each other, I believe so. His daughter's name, his confession of love on his deathbed, his presence at her funeral, and her letters to her sister all seem to fit in my opinion. Either way I think it is unfortunate that she was never married. Even if she loved him forever, I would think it would be haunting to have never had a followthrough and be stuck with only the memories of what almost was.

About the movie, I watched it one time, and though I found it beautiful I cried my eyes out and have not been able to bring myself to watch it since. I have a friend who no longer reads the JA books because now she only thinks of the sadness of the movie if she tries to read them. In my opinion and experience, (however limited that may be) Those of us just starting out in life and still dreaming about our plans and hopes are very worried about ending up alone. That is why the movie hit home so hard for me. I know that there are worse things than ending up alone in life, but it still seems like it would be pretty awful.

6/28/2009 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it amazes me that a movie that came out more than 2 years ago, still inspires this kind of reverence with austen fans. but then again, here i am writing a post.

many of you talk of tom and jane's passion. their intense love that eventually drove them apart and possibly inspired austen's literary genius. what i think so many of you are forgetting is that we are looking at actors acting out a script. it is well written, although no one has the authority to discuss it's authenticity. none of you for sure can say whether it really happened OR whether it didn't.

i would just like to applaud the actors from becoming jane in their on screen chemistry. the director, writer and cinematographer for bringing us into a world we could not possibly fathom and allowing us a peek into one possible scenario of a life that for the most part is shrouded in mystery.

for those who knock the validity of the info presented in this movie...who cares? if p&p had been austens only great work, then perhaps being offended that tom was the inspiration for her work is understandable. but austen proved time and time again how special she was as a writer and a woman. of that there can be no doubt. her true inspiration came from her intellect and imagination. so...chill out on the romantics here people. and romantics...it's a movie. jane was so much more than 135 minutes of anne hathaway.

7/23/2009 06:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many people have written here that Jane Austen could not possibly have written about love in the way that she did, without having experienced it first hand; I dispute this. I am thinking particularly of Emily Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights.' In my opinion 'Wuthering Heights' is possibly the most passionate book in the English language, it is a novel that describes an addictive relationship which deeply damages both parties involved and the consequences move on down to the next generation. My point is that this book was written by a young woman who had lived most of her life, apart from one brief trip away, on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. She lived a sheltered life and ended up nursing her sick father and spending her time wandering the moors and writing this great novel and many hauntingly beautiful poems. As far as we know she had absolutely no experience of love and yet her novel is so convincing. I think it is the same with Jane Austen, though we may wish it were different. A good writer must first have a good imagination and have a good grasp of language in which to express that imagination. Both Emily Bronte and Jane Austen had both. A film IS and MUST be different to a book, but it is also different to a life. It is an impression of one and that is NEVER the same as TRUTH. Perhaps we can enjoy the film for what it is but keep it separate from the reality of Jane Austen's life.

8/10/2009 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

lisa said:
becoming Jane was a film I could watch time and time again - like adaptations of Austen's novels.But lets not forget that there is little evidence left for us to really know what the extent of their feelings were. For myself, I would like to think that it was a life long attachment, but thats where the romantics in us blur reality. Jane would certainly not have eloped with Tom! And we know that she almost married a clergy man years later.
But after reading what has been written, the nicest thing is that we are still all debating her life because her work left such an impression and I hope that it continues to do so!

8/31/2009 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a recent fan of Jane Austen, here in Spain know their books, but there is not much information about she here, as in UK. I've seen the movie and I want to know ... Why Jane never married or had no partner? She never forgot to Tom Lefroy? And is that true that Mr. Darcy is really Lefroy? Someone please answer me thanks :)

Elisa

11/03/2009 08:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don´t believe that Mr. Darcy was fully inspired by Thomas lefroy.

From my perspective, the character of John Willoughby in S&S, is more accurated

1/16/2010 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger alan said...

This is a very interesting blog and so i like to visit your blog again and again. Keep it up.

Alan

http://holidaydestinationinindia.blogspot.com

2/26/2010 03:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading previous comments, I've decided not to conclude that Jane and Tom actually did have affair as there have been scare information to make this gap less broadened.

What I would like to share is about the movie itself. Becoming Jane is truly beautiful romantic movie. I watched Twilight and was completely dazzled by Rob Pattinson and 'True Love Never Die'. But after watching Becoming Jame, I was in agony. James McAvoy and Ann Hathaway are great. The scene I like best is when Jane was looking for Tom while dancing with the guy who was trying to win her affection. When Tom suddenly popped up..what a lovely surprise!!!!

6/12/2010 06:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Jane and Tom in Becoming Jane... their love is so mutual and pure, coming from two very clashing egos in the beginning! And the movie depicts it so well! I have cried so many times over this movie... my favorite scene is the dance scene, when she spins around and there's Tom! They can't take their eyes off each other!

11/20/2010 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Becoming Jane may be only a movie and yes their love MAY have been exagerated but the movie still gave chills to me. Actaully Jane Austins love for Tom has inspired me in so many ways with my own writings. No one really knows so let leave it at that and lets let our immagination take over. We dont need to know if it was just flirtation or real and deep love. i think of it as a puzzle. Doing research on Jane Austin leads me to think that she is amused at our conversations about Tom and herself. I also think she would like us to think with our hearts and not be so much a realist and more of romantics! I bleive in my heart and mind that Tom really loved Jane as did she. No one can ever change my mind on that opinion because that love i believe that they shared has changed my perspective on love forever. I think thats what she would want...

3/20/2011 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Lily said...

Great post. I really love the story of Jane and Tom as the movie tells it, but of course that's a little too much. Although I really wish she had found someone to share her life with. Jane sure deserved it!

I'm really looking foward on reading your book 'a walk with jane austen' and maybe one day do that same trip to England to follow her life. Gotta be really great!

best wishes,
Livia

5/03/2011 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going back in the conversation I have to wonder if Tom named his first daughter after Jane in the hopes that Jane would here about it on social grapevines and was a quiet and dignified way of letting her know that he had not forgotten the time that they shared and she would never be forgotten to him. Whimsical I know and for some reason I want this to be true so badly.

7/08/2011 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Jane Austen was a powerful and articulate observer of her environment, sheltered though it was. She was humorous and ironic and, apparently, was so in everything she wrote.

She was a writer in the truest sense; she HAD to write about what she saw. And that's what she did. She is by far my favorite writer in that her keen wit in dissecting the environment around her did not dislodge her sense of duty or obligation. She knew right from wrong and shunned one without losing the sense of how silly the current conventions of the other were in her day and age.

As to her affection for Tom LeFroy, let the romance be there. Why not? But take care to attribute to Jane's place and time the difference in conduct and manner from those seen in the movie.

Run away with a man? Kiss him in the forest? Go with him to the local bar fight? Please. 'Becoming Jane' is a ridiculous, romanticized, modern take on experiences that Jane Austen can't have had. And would never have allowed in herself.

I loved the movie as a separate thing - a story that had nothing to do with her. But in reading her books, it can't be lost on us, surely, that Tom's need by his family and the claims on his state were commonplace.

Check out the character of Anne in Persuasion as an example of someone who had a second chance at love. Of course, Jane might have been daydreaming of her own lost cause there. But that doesn't mean that Anne forsook any of her own honor in pursuing it.

I loved Lori's article here. It's the reason I got online today, to check out the truth behind this fantasy. Thanks very much!

11/13/2011 03:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lori! I'm a student doing a project on Jane Austen, and I was wondering if I could use some of your quotes for my report? I would cite it and quote it and everything if that made you feel better....I'll check back later!

12/30/2011 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger 6th Street Sundries said...

I am an ardent lover of anything Jane Austen. I agree with a previous poster; her work has certainly not "run its course." Her social commentary and the playful wit and turn of phrase utilized are timeless; her work will continue to inspire the most romantic of love stories, and her apt character descriptions put into words so many of the people with whom we deal on a daily basis.

That being said, I absolutely refuse to believe that Thomas LeFroy was her "great" love. Perhaps there was some spark of feeling, yes, and perhaps the financial situation of them both did play a part in her inspiration. But someone who obviously had such feelings, such keen observation of the human condition in general and love specifically, cannot have garnered enough information about a male-female relationship in such a few short, censored weeks.

I also find it somewhat creepy to think that Tom LeFroy named his first daughter after someone he loved so passionately... if their love truly was as pure and passionate as the movie claims, then why would he want a daily reminder of his failure to listen to his heart instead of his brain? Why would he want a reminder of such astounding passion and feeling, feeling upon which he cannot act? Yes, what a coincidence that "Christmas" was chosen as a middle name. I still don't buy it.

Hollywood is Hollywood... they take artistic license with everything they touch to make money. I think that anything that has been "Hollywood-ified" should be taken with a grain of salt.

1/08/2012 02:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether Jane Lefroy was named after a family member or the lost love that doesn't matter. We desperately hope our Jane-who was not so lucky in love during her life time- was at least cherished at one time by a man with a pure heart.

11/25/2013 02:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The influence of Tom Lefroy on the novels of Jane Austen was non-existent. This is because, as I show in my recently published book "Jane Austen - a New Revelation" the novels were not written by Jane Austen, but by her cousin, Eliza de Feuillide. They could not be published under Eliza's name as she was the secret illegitimate daughter of Warren Hastings, the Governor General of India. Eliza was married twice, had one son and several miscarriages.

Jane Austen's lack of a love life has posed a problem for biographers, as the novels show that their author obviously had extensive experience of love, sex and marriage. To overcome this problem, biographers have invented a love life for Jane Austen which never existed in reality. Jon Spence in particular exaggerated a few references in Jane Austen's letters to create a full blown love affair with Tom Lefroy.

12/29/2013 05:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's extremely heartbreaking that Jane never got to be with her love because of one fool! It's really so unfair. Tom and her made each other so happy. They loved each other all their lives.

7/21/2014 04:55:00 PM  

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