London, May 26 (ANI): A new book tracing the life of legendary author Jane Austen has allegedly identified the mystery suitor who broke the novelist’s heart and sparked a rift with her sister— Dr Samuel Blackall.
Austen’s romantic novels have always fired speculations about her private passions.
In fact, the 2007 film ‘Becoming Jane’ explored her youthful flirtation with a handsome Irishman named Tom Lefroy, who allegedly was the inspiration for the rugged Mr Darcy in ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
However, a literary historian has claimed that her true love was a clergyman named Dr Samuel Blackall, who first caught Austen’s attention in 1798 when he was a guest of their mutual friends, the Lefroys.
In ‘Jane Austen: An Unrequited Love’, Dr Andrew Norman has revealed that Blackall’s letters to friends disclose his romantic interest in the young author, but Austen took his uncertainty as a snub.
“There seems no likelihood of his coming into Hampshire this Christmas, and it is therefore most probably that our indifference will soon be mutual, unless his regard, which appeared to spring from knowing nothing of me at first, is best supported by never seeing me,” The Telegraph quoted Austen as writing to her sister Cassandra.
But after four years the couple renewed their relationship when they accidentally bumped into each other in the market town of Totnes, Devon.
“Nothing else was heard until Jane and her parents went down to the South Devon coast in 1802. Here we know she met and fell in love with an unknown clergyman, who was visiting his brother who was working in the town as a doctor,” said Norman.
He added: “I looked all over the place and found a Dr John Blackall registered in Totnes – he turned out to be Samuel’s brother.”
However, not many of Austen’s letters between 1801 and 1804 are available, which makes it difficult to substantiate the veracity of the relationship.
But Norman has said that Austen’s novels and poems from around this time support the Blackall theory.
He also suggested that there was a rift between the author and her sister Cassandra as they tried to battle for his affections.
In his opinion, Austen’s 1804 book ‘The Watsons’, detailing a woman’s love affair that was destroyed by a sister with “no faith, no honour, no scruples, if she can promote her own advantage” was based on their dispute. (ANI)