In the Christmas holidays of 1795-96, a young Irishman named Thomas Lefroy left his legal studies in London to visit some relatives who lived in the countryside. While staying with them, he attended a series of provincial balls that also happened to be attended by the Austens, including the 20-year-old Jane Austen. “I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved,” Jane later wrote to her sister Cassandra. “Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking.” What transpired between these two young people? How did it end? And could it have been the inspiration for Pride and Prejudice, the novel that famously introduced a charming young woman to a mysterious outsider at just such a ball? In this episode, Jacke takes a look at what we know – and what we tantalizingly don’t – about the young Jane Austen and her dalliance with Thomas Lefroy.
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