Jane Austen’s Real-Life Mr. Darcy?

Jane Austen wrote wonderfully of love and romance, yet never married herself. We know that she had romances, probably at least one of them serious, but since her sister Cassandra burned much of the correspondence between her and Jane, we can really only speculate about much of Jane’s life.

Some think law student Tom Lefroy inspired Jane to create Mr. Darcy, a notion fueled by the popular chick flick “Becoming Jane.” But in the recently published book Jane Austen: An Unrequited Love, literary historian Andrew Norman believes that the real-life “Darcy” was most likely John Blackall, a theology student who first met Jane in the summer of 1798 while staying with the Lefroys, then met her again in Devon in 1802, where they fell in love. For whatever reason, the summer romance didn’t last, and may have caused a rift between the Austen sisters.

“No-one knows precisely what happened that summer or straight afterwards, because the letters [between the sisters] dry up,” said Norman in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

He believes Jane’s dispute with Cassandra helped inspire the tale of sisterly betrayal in Jane’s unfinished 1804 novel The Watsons.

I’ve ordered Norman’s book and look forward to seeing what he puts forward as evidence. Look for a “book report” soon.