Jane Austen fans prepare to swoon, as a letter recently acquired by ‘Jane Austen House and Museum’ reveals the name of her very own Darcy.
Jane Austen, the author of literary classics, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility, wrote all of six of her novels whilst living in Chawton. Her house is now a museum that commemorates her work and serves as a major attraction for die-hard Austen fans keen to hear more about their favorite author’s life.
In a newly acquired letter, written in January 1796, Austen describes her excitement over an upcoming ball where she would see Tom Lefroy. In the letter, she confides to her sister Cassandra, that she is to “flirt her last” with a dashing Irish lawyer.
Austen and Lefroy met when they were both just 20 years old. Not long after, Austen began writing First Impressions (later published as Pride and Prejudice). It has been strongly suggested that Lefroy was the inspiration for one of the novelist’s most famous characters – Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, who has become the archetype of the aloof and flawed romantic hero of our times.
According to the Jane Austen House and Museum, the exhibition will bring together the letter in which Jane told her sister Cassandra, “I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy”, to be shown alongside Tom’s portrait by George Engleheart, which is on a private loan.
It is widely well known that Austen never married, perhaps deterred by rejection. The similarity to Darcy stopped at his charm, as Lefroy was poor, and despite the author’s obvious affection for him, nothing more ever eventuated between them. Lefroy went on to marry a rich young woman.
A twin exhibition called ‘Jane Austen in London’ displays a never before seen letter from Jane to her sister Cassandra on September 15-16, 1813. Written whilst staying at her brother’s house in London, Jane writes about the details of everyday life, such as shopping, outings to the theatre, and an excruciating visit to the dentist.
The exhibition will run at the Jane Austen House and Museum until March 2023.