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Smocking: A Stitch in Time

Smocking example

A History of Smocking And Techniques to Try

Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion. The perpetual commendations of the lady either on his hand-writing, or on the evenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in unison with her opinion of each.
-Pride and Prejudice

This 1812 fashion plate from Costume Parisien features smocking at the neck of the gown.

Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. Before elastic, smocking was commonly used in cuffs, bodices, and necklines in garments where buttons were undesirable. Smocking developed in England and has been practised since the Middle Ages and is unusual among embroidery methods in that it was often worn by laborers. Other major embroidery styles are purely decorative and represented status symbols. Smocking was practical for garments to be both form fitting and flexible, hence its name derives from smock — a farmer’s work shirt. Smocking was used most extensively in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

A lovely example of the honeycomb stitch (reverse smocking) on an 18th c. gown (sleeves and neckline). A lovely description of how to incorporate this stitch into your Regency gown can be found at theleonoraproject.

Continue reading Smocking: A Stitch in Time

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Becoming Jane: Becoming Fictional

Prior knowledge of Jane Austen’s life
will not enhance the viewer’s enjoyment of the film.”

 

Becoming Jane is not really about Jane Austen. Becoming is about us and our Austen- inspired, time travel fantasies. Through the artistry of costume and set designers, whose efforts must be applauded, Becoming may achieve the outward appearance of Regency England, but do not be deceived. The film is a collection of modern attitudes, assumptions, whimsy, values and prejudices playing dress up.

A willful, impulsive, self confident, aspiring career girl, the Jane Austen of Becoming Jane (Anne Hathaway) is a twenty-first century woman in a pretty frock who inevitably finds herself at odds with the archaic society in which she has been placed. Thoroughly modern Jane naturally rebels and “setting propriety at nought” proceeds to indulge in some extremely unlikely behavior, exactly the same activities which Austen cautions against in her novels. But this is a material point in understanding the film.

Predicated on the notion that art imitates life, Becoming Jane assumes that Jane Austen, her family, friends and acquaintances must have inspired the characters, spoken the lines and enacted the plot twists of Austen’s novels. Thus, Becoming’s Jane Austen is a Frankenstein combination of Catherine Morland’s admiration of Ann Radcliffe (Helen McCrory), Marianne Dashwood’s excessive romanticism, Emma Woodhouse’s self assurance, Anne Elliot’s indecision and Lydia Bennet’s impulsivity. You will note that these traits are the weaknesses of Austen’s fictional characters, not their strengths. The result of this weird alchemy of flaws is someone strangely familiar because she is so… us. Hathaway attempts to speak with an English accent, but she really needn’t have bothered. It’s obviously not Jane Austen under that bonnet.

The film’s love interest, bad boy Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), is another Regency misfit. A lazy, disgruntled, playboy student who fancies himself an athlete, Lefroy makes an arrogant, Mr. Darcy first impression. But Lefroy turns out to be John Willoughby, a self-indulgent libertine who plans to marry for money all along but who falls in love with Miss Penniless in spite of himself. Lefroy’s fate is Sense and Sensibility’s version of rough justice.

The rest of Becoming’s cast is a mixed bag of Austen’s minor characters. Not quite equal to the stoicism of Elinor Dashwood, the resignation of Jane Bennet or the fortitude of Fanny Price, Austen’s sister Cassandra (Anna Maxwell Martin) deals with her loss with admirable self-control, and Mr. Austen (James Cromwell) is a surprisingly lusty Mr. Bennet. Mrs. Austen (Julie Walters) begins as a Mrs. Bennet scold but develops into Lady Russell dispensing well intended though unsolicited advice. Austen’s fictional admirer Mr. Wisley (Laurence Fox) also serves double duty, first as a Mr. Collins “booby” but later emerging as a long suffering and sympathetic Colonel Brandon who never gets his Marianne. The happily-ever-after ending goes to Austen’s brother Henry (Joe Anderson) and her cousin Eliza (Lucy Cohu) who eventually emerge from the church as man and wife but only after a good deal of pre-marital impropriety.

No film with Maggie Smith and Ian Richardson can be all bad. Smith’s Lady Grishom/Lady Catherine was predictably sour and amusing, and Richardson’s Judge Langlois/Sir Thomas Bertram, deciding the fates of criminals and nephews with equal deliberation and dispatch, was the most interesting character in the film. But, indeed, the entire cast did their best with the parts they were given.

There’s no denying that Becoming Jane is a feast for the eyes. Although not Austen’s rural Hampshire, the Irish scenery is lovely. With the complexion of a Royal Doulton figurine, Hathaway herself is beautiful to behold. The costumes and sets were meticulously constructed, and there are horses, carriages and Georgian architecture aplenty. A lot of time and attention went into the making of this film, and it seems to have so many of the right ingredients, but Becoming Jane is ultimately lacking a vital force. The spirit was willing, but the script was weak.


This film is rated PG for brief nudity and mild language (edited for re-rating; initially was rated PG-13). Becoming Jane is open in theaters around the world. Check local listings for showtimes. Also visit the Becoming Jane Fansite for historical articles and other film information.

Sheryl Craig is an Instructor of English at Central Missouri State University. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Kansas.

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Who was the Real Tom Lefroy?

“Tell Mary that I make over Mr. Heartley and all his estate to her for her sole use and benefit in future, and not only him, but all my other admirers into the bargain wherever she can find them, even the kiss which C. Powlett wanted to give me, as I mean to confine myself in future to Mr. Tom Lefroy, for whom I do not care sixpence. Assure her also, as a last and indisputable proof of Warren’s indifference to me, that he actually drew that gentleman’s picture for me, and delivered it to me without a sigh.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
January 14, 1796


Film stills from Becoming Jane, available on DVD from the Jane Austen Gift Shop

Thomas Langlois Lefroy (1776-1869 ) was an Irish Politician and judge, who eventually rose to the position of Chief Justice of Ireland. He was one of 10 children born to Colonel Anthony Lefroy of Limerick and Anne Gardiner. As the eldest son, the family depended on him to “rise into distinction and there haul up the rest.”

This rise in distinction, from being the son of a soldier, to the chief Justice of Ireland was facilitated by Tom’s uncle, Benjamin Lefroy. Uncle Benjamin, in reality, great-uncle to young Thomas and his brothers and sisters, had made his money in the banking industry in Italy, before returning to London to take on life as a politician. He was greatly concerned with the welfare of his family and provided generously for his relative’s education, praising his “good heart, a good mind, good sense, and as little to correct in him as ever I saw in one of his age”.

Tom graduated with top honors from Trinity College in Dublin in 1795 and soon began studying law in London. At some point, however, it was decided that he should take a break. Family history maintains that long nights poring over books had weakened his constitution and his eyesight. It was clear that he needed a rest. With a new term beginning in January, 1796, Tom took several weeks off in December of 1795 to visit his Uncle and Aunt, Rev. George and Anne Lefroy in Ashe, nearly 60 miles away.

It was there that this young law student made his mark on history, for nearby to Ashe, at Steventon, lived the Austen family. Their younger daughter, Jane, was a great favorite of Tom’s Aunt Anne, though close to 30 years separated them in age. Anne Brydges Lefroy was, by all accounts a handsome woman who held great powers of persuasion over her children and friends, and in return was respected and loved by many. She was in many ways Lady Russell to young Jane Austen’s Anne Elliot.

Although it is clear that many letters are missing, the account of this meeting that we do have is due to the fact that Jane Austen’s dearest friend and older sister, Cassandra, was at the time of Tom’s visit, visiting her own fiancé, Thomas Fowle. She was absent for the whole of Lefroy’s visit to Ashe and in fact never met this man who might have been her brother-in-law. Only two letters survive from this period of Jane Austen’s life, but they are invaluable to the scholar seeking information about this only known love interest who obviously shaped Jane’s outlook on love and life.

Many have argued that the tone of these letters does not sound like a woman deeply in love. It is important to consider, however, that Jane, but 20 years old at the time, no doubt expected them to be read to or at least shared with the Fowle family, with whom Cassandra was staying. She perhaps wished to express less than she felt in order to avoid embarrassment with her friends. It is also known that after Jane’s death, Cassandra ruthlessly purged her letters, lest any that might seem too personal fall into the wrong hands. We will never know what the missing letters were that Jane wrote to her sister.

It is not unlikely for two attractive young people to fall in together and enjoy each other’s company. A few years earlier, Jane’s cousin, the worldly wise Eliza de Fuillide, had described Cassandra and Jane as “perfect beauties [who] of course gain hearts by the dozen.” A portrait* drawn of Tom Lefroy in 1796 shows a serious young man with the light hair typical of the family. His prominent nose and deep blue eyes certainly present an overall picture of a “very gentleman like, good-looking, pleasant young man.”

To be fond of dancing [is] a certain step towards falling in love
-Pride and Prejudice

Tom and Jane first met in mid December. As it was the Christmas season, balls were held frequently and Jane and this young student from Ireland met often and danced often. Jane even teased her sister about how often they stood up together and how they taught other couples a lesson on “being particular”. The two found much in common, sharing opinions and books. Their relationship was a close one, as evidenced by the fact that he lent her Tom Jones, an amazingly racy novel, not likely to be found on the shelves of her clergyman father’s library. Others, too, thought them a couple, as evidenced by one acquaintance sketching a picture of Tom for Jane to keep.

Visits were exchanged at each other’s homes and this whirlwind relationship ended after four weeks with Jane rather expecting to receive an offer of marriage from Tom. Was such an offer made? One tends to think not. Though she steadfastly refuses to accept him in her letter (unless he gets rid of his white coat) her later sentence in the same letter betrays her cavalier attitude, “At length the day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, and when you receive this it will be over. My tears flow as I write at the melancholy idea.”

Tom returned to his uncle’s house in London and to his studies. Many readers persist in thinking that Anne Lefroy sent him away in order to avoid an imprudent match on Tom’s part. Certainly, it would have been in his best interest to marry well. Anna Austen Lefroy, Anne Lefroy’s daughter in law and Jane Austen’s niece, refutes this theory. Though alone among her relatives, she wrote, in 1869,

I am the only person who has any faith in the tradition…but when I came to hear again & again, from those who were old enough to remember, how the Mother had disliked Tom Lefroy because he had behaved so ill to Jane Austen, with sometimes the additional weight of the Father’s condemnation, what could I think then? Or what now except to give a verdict . . . [of] ‘under mitigating circumstances’—As—First, the youth of the Parties—secondly, that Mrs. Lefroy, charming woman as she was, warm in her feelings, was also partial in her judgments—Thirdly—that for other causes, too long to enter upon, she not improbably set out with a prejudice against the Gentleman, & would have distrusted had there been no Jane Austen in the case. The one thing certain is, that to the last year of his life she was remembered as the object of his youthful admiration—

Perhaps the blame was Tom’s. Before he had even left the countryside, rumors of an engagement to another were being spread. It is true that by the next spring, in 1797, he was engaged to Mary Paul, the sister of a college mate. Was this alliance in place before he ever met Jane Austen? Did Jane work this angle into Sense and Sensibility when she rewrote it years later, allowing Edward Ferrars to be trapped by a youthful engagement while falling in love with Elinor Dashwood?

Romantics may find it difficult to forgive the man who loved and left our favorite author, breaking her heart, perhaps forever—and yet, we must be grateful to him, as well. It is obvious that Jane knew love and could write with authority about love. Though she never admits it in the letters we have, it seems clear that she did love Tom Lefroy, and when asked about Jane, at the age of 94, Tom, too, admitted to loving Jane, though he qualified it by calling it a “boyish love”.

If she had married, it is doubtful that Jane would have had time or encouragement to write and without this period of awakening, without this loss, we may never have seen Jane Austen’s novels in print. It is possible to see aspects of Tom Lefroy and his relationship with Jane in every hero she created, and in working out the lives of her heroines, is it not surprising that she gave each of them the happy ending she longed for?

We cannot know if that night in Ashe was the last Jane ever saw of Tom. The very next letter that she wrote to Cassandra (August, 1796) is dated from Cork Street, London, where Tom lived with his uncle Benjamin. “For the Austens to have stayed there by chance at this particular time, in the very street where Tom Lefroy was living, would have been a strange coincidence”, suggests Jon Spence in his book, Becoming Jane. History shows that there were no boarding houses or hotels in Cork Street during that time. “There is no direct proof that they stayed with Langlois and his nephew, but it looks as though they did.”

Others suggest that Jane at least caught a glimpse of Tom later on that year in Bath.** He did visit his aunt in Ashe in 1797, but departed the country without visiting the Austens. This was clearly a difficult time for Jane, who wrote of this visit to her sister in November, 1798,

“Mrs. Lefroy did come last Wednesday…with whom, in spite of interruptions both from my father and James, I was enough alone to hear all that was interesting, which you will easily credit when I tell you that of her nephew she said nothing at all, and of her friend very little. She did not once mention the name of the former to me, and I was too proud to make any inquiries; but on my father’s afterwards asking where he was, I learnt that he was gone back to London in his way to Ireland, where he is called to the Bar and means to practise.”

Thomas Lefroy been called to the Irish Bar in 1797, did Jane but know it, and there he became a prominent member, publishing a series of Law Reports on the cases of the Irish Court of Chancery. He married Mary Paul in 1799 and they had seven children. The eldest son Anthony Lefroy was also an MP for his father’s old seat of Dublin University. A daughter named Jane is often thought to have been named for Jane Austen, though a more likely candidate is his mother-in-law, Jane Paul.

Thomas was elected to the House of Commons for the Dublin University seat in 1830, as a Tory (the party later becoming known as Conservative). He became a member of the Privy Council of Ireland on 29 January 1835. He continued to represent the University until he was appointed an Irish judge (with the title of a Baron of the Exchequer) in 1841.

He was promoted to Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Ireland in 1852. Despite some allegations in Parliament, that he was too old to do the job, Lefroy did not resign as Chief Justice until 1866 when, at the age of 90, a Conservative government was in office to fill the vacancy. He died in 1869.

The Lefroy family home, Carrigglas Manor, in County Longford, Ireland, is an imposing Victorian Limestone house with oriel windows, pitched gables and battlemented turrets. Just the kind of place Catherine Morland would have delighted in. Carrigglas was designed in 1837 for Thomas and his family by Scottish architect, Daniel Robertson. It remains in the Lefroy family to this day and is open seasonally for tours.

*This portrait is part of a private collection, but can be found in Jane Austen’s World: The Life and Times of England’s Most Popular Author.

** Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy: Stories, by Linda Robinson Walker, Persuasions, On-line

Biographical information borrowed from Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia.

Film stills from Becoming Jane, available on DVD from the Jane Austen Gift Shop

Laura Boyle runs Austentation: Regency Accessories, creating custom made hats, bonnets and reticules in the Regency style.

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Ann Radcliffe: Mother of the Gothic Novel

Ann Radcliffe was an English author, a pioneer of the gothic novel. She was born Ann Ward in Holborn, July 9, 1764. Her father was William Ward, a haberdasher; her mother was Ann Oates. At the age of 22, she married journalist William Radcliffe, owner and editor of the English Chronicle, in Bath in 1788. The marriage was childless and, to amuse herself, she began to write fiction, which her husband encouraged.

She published The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne in 1789. It set the tone for the majority of her work, which tended to involve innocent, but heroic young women who find themselves in gloomy, mysterious castles ruled by even more mysterious barons with dark pasts.

Her works were extremely popular among the upper class and the growing middle class, especially among young women. In time, they included A Sicilian Romance, The Romance of the Forest, beloved by Emma’s Harriet Smith, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and The Italian. She published a travelogue, A Journey Through Holland and the Western Frontier of Germany in 1795.

The success of The Romance of the Forest established Radcliffe as the leading exponent of the historical Gothic romance. Her later novels met with even greater attention, and produced many imitators, and famously, Jane Austen’s burlesque of The Mysteries of Udolpho in Northanger Abbey, as well as influencing the works of Sir Walter Scott.

They determined on walking round Beechen Cliff, that noble hill whose beautiful verdure and hanging coppice render it so striking an object from almost every opening in Bath.

“I never look at it,” said Catherine, as they walked along the side of the river, “without thinking of the south of France.”

“You have been abroad then?” said Henry, a little surprised.

“Oh! No, I only mean what I have read about. It always puts me in mind of the country that Emily and her father travelled through, in The Mysteries of Udolpho.

Stylistically, Radcliffe was noted for her vivid descriptions of exotic and sinister locales, though in reality the author had rarely or never visited the actual locations. Shy by nature, she did not encourage her fame and abandoned literature as a pursuit.

She died on February 7, 1823 from respiratory problems probably caused by pneumonia. She was buried in Saint George’s Church, Hanover Square in London.

After her death it was written of her that, “She never appeared in public, nor mingled in private society, but kept herself apart, like the sweet bird that sings its solitary notes, shrouded and unseen…She was more than repaid by the enjoyments which were fostered in the shade; and perhaps few distinguished authors have passed a life so blameless and so happy…her countenance indicated melancholy. She had been, doubtless, in her youth, beautiful.”

In the film Becoming Jane, she is portrayed by Helen McCrory, in a scene where she meets Jane Austen and encourages her to embark on a writing career (there is no historical evidence of such a meeting, though as noted Radcliffe’s works had clearly influenced Austen’s).

This information was supplied by Wikipedia.
Further information about the life of Ms. Radcliffe and her impact on literature can be found at The City University of New York.

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Instructions for a Regency Updo


Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen in Becoming Jane

These instructions for a Regency style updo were created and modelled by Jennie Chancey of Sense & Sensibility Clothing for In Timely Fashion. Visit their site for other historically inspired hairstyles and historical fashions.

It is best to start with slightly damp hair, since it holds curls better and is
easier to work with. If you have fine or flyaway hair, I
recommend using a bit of lightweight styling gel to keep
strands in place! If you do not have naturally curly or
wavy hair, you can curl it ahead of time or sleep in
pincurls.


Step 1. Pull hair back into a loose ponytail at the neck.

Step 2. Twist the ponytail up the back of the head,
just like you are starting a French twist. Secure the
twist at the bottom, middle and top with bobby pins,
leaving “leftover” hair alone for now.

Click on thumbnails to view full-sized images in a new window.

Start Updo Step 2 Step 2 B Step 2 C

Step 3. Take the remaining curls and arrange them artistically on
top of the head, securing with bobby pins to keep the
updo from falling down. What starts out looking like
a mess will turn into a lovely hairstyle with a
little artful pinning and arranging.

Step 3 Step 3B Step 3C Step 3D

Ta-da!
You now have a beautiful Regency hairstyle. Before
long, you’ll be able to create this hairstyle in less
than a minute — it is so easy!

a la Lizzie Bennet! a la Lizzie Bennet!


Instructions reprinted from In Timely Fashion. Visit their website for other period inspired hairstyles and fashion information.

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George Austen

We spent Friday evening with our friends at the boarding-house, and our curiosity was gratified by the sight of their fellow-inmates, Mrs. Drew and Miss Hook, Mr. Wynne and Mr. Fitzhugh; the latter is brother to Mrs. Lance, and very much the gentleman. He has lived in that house more than twenty years, and, poor man! is so totally deaf that they say he could not hear a cannon, were it fired close to him; having no cannon at hand to make the experiment, I took it for granted, and talked to him a little with my fingers, which was funny enough. I recommended him to read Corinna.”
Jane Austen to Cassandra, December 27, 1808

One of the many things that made me love Becoming Jane was the interactions between Jane Austen and her brothers in the movie. Granted, the movie only included Henry Austen and George Austen there, and left Jane’s other brothers in the conversations only. But it was very important to me that George Austen, of all people, was included. People who have read JA biographies would learn that George was a forgotten son in the Austen family due to his mental incapability.

After reading more info about George, I was glad that Julian Jarrold decided to include George in the movie, paying homage to Jane’s abandoned brother. So, this is a short article and a tribute to George Austen. George Austen (1766 – 17 January 1838) was actually the second son of Revd. George Austen and Cassandra Leigh. He was born with a mental handicap; hence he was kept away from the rest of the Austen family. It was one of the dark secrets of the Austens that David Nokes elaborated in his 1997 biography, Jane Austen: a Life. However, Claire Tomalin’s book (2000) of the same title recalled George in a slightly different light; George still had the luxury of becoming the godsonof Mr. Hancock (Eliza De Feullide’s father).

Tomalin noted that George, who possibly suffered cerebral palsy, still lived in Steventon as a child. On November 8th, 1772, Mrs. Austen wrote to her relative Ms. Susannah Walter that she was at home with her four sons; that would mean that George was still in Steventon in 1772, with James, Edward and Henry. However, in 1779 a decision was made to trust George to a Culham family who lived in Monk Sherborne, about three miles from Basingstoke (Nokes’s version was Cullum, instead of Culham). George would later spend his entire seventy-two years there with his uncle, Mr. Thomas Leigh (brother of Jane’s mother Cassandra Leigh), who also suffered mental setback. Hence, based on Tomalin’s analysis, brother George Austen was still in Steventon when Tom Lefroy met Jane Austen during the 1795 Christmas holiday, as portrayed in Becoming Jane.

George Austen was rarely mentioned in the Austen family letters, except for several occasions, e.g. in a letter of July 8th, 1770 where Mr. Austen wrote to Susannah Walter that ‘We have this comfort, he cannot be a bad or a wicked child’ (Tomalin 2000, p. 8). However, the Austens seldom visited George in Monk Sherborne. At best, James Austen paid Mr. Francis Cullum a routine visit to give the latter the Austens’ contribution for George’s expenses (Nokes 1997). I am not sure if there is any letter of Jane talking about his brother George (she talked of other George, i.e. her nephew in Letter #60 (24-25 October 1808)(Faye 1997), but Tomalin mentioned that Jane Austen knew deaf and dumb sign language, as observed in her letter from the year 1808 (she talked ‘with my fingers’), hence it is possible that Jane sometimes interacted with Brother George in real life; or at least wrote about him in the confiscated letters. At any rate, it is very likely that Jane disliked her family’s indifferent treatment of George, for she wrote to her niece Fanny Knight, ‘Pictures of perfection as you know make me sick & wicked’ (Letter#155, 23-25 March 1817), although the letter was talking about Fanny’s admirer James Wildman (Nokes 1997).

Not unlike the way Jane silently paid homage to her Irish friend Tom Lefroy in her novels, the English authoress also paid tribute to her forgotten brother George. Nokes noticed that in Persuasion, the Musgroves had an ill-fated son named Richard (Volume I Chapter VI). ‘Poor Richard’ was a ‘troublesome’, ‘thick-headed’, ‘unfeeling’, ‘unprofitable’ and ‘hopeless’ son, hence ‘had been sent to sea, because he was stupid and unmanageable on shore; that he had been very little cared for at any time by his family, though quite as much as he deserved; seldom heard of, and scarcely at all regretted…’ To me, it is interesting that Richard was once a part of the crew on Captain Wentworth’s ship, and it was Wentworth who encouraged Richard to write to his family. The interesting part for me is that Wentworth was the embodiment of Tom Lefroy, and Richard was Jane’s way of paying homage to her brother. (In Becoming Jane, George Austen was there when Tom Lefroy interacted with Jane Austen…)

In 1827, Edward Knight (the third son of the Austens) gave his entire inheritance from his mother (£ 437) to George (Tomalin 2000). Much later on January 17th, 1838, George Austen died of dropsy. In contrast to the grave of his famous sister Jane, George’s grave remained an unmarked grave in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Monk Sherborne. His death certificate only had the note of ‘A Gentleman’, proposed by George Cullum, son of Francis Cullum, George Austen’s life-long caretaker (Nokes 1997).

In Becoming Jane, George Austen was played by Philip Culhane, a partially deaf Dublin actor, who taught Anne Hathaway a rudimentary sign language for the purpose of the movie (see celebritywonder.com). George Austen was even an important player in the movie. In Becoming Jane, he was obviously not mentally-handicapped, for he responded appropriately to what his sister Jane and his mother said to him. George also chased Henry when his younger brother played with his rather silly hat. George was present when Tom met Jane for the first time in Steventon. George was ‘listening’ to Jane’s story of Tom Lefroy’s boxing adventure in Laverton Fair when Jane found out that Lady Gresham was visiting her house. George was also the one whom Jane walked with after she accepted Mr. Wisley’s proposal. And when Jane was busy convincing George (and herself) that she would be happy with Wisley, George was the one who spotted Tom Lefroy standing a few feet behind them. With sign language, Brother George also innocently asked if Jane loved Tom, to which Jane negated furiously, only to immediately receive Tom’s hot kisses over her.

I understand that the inclusion of George Austen in Becoming Jane might be inaccurate, although it is very likely that George was still at Steventon in 1796/97. But I love that historical inaccuracy, for it gave the movie more depth of a brother-sister bond between George and Jane, something that the real Jane Austen could not enjoy during her lifetime. And perhaps, although the real Jane might stand up and say ‘Pardon me, that scene is not correct for what truly happened was this and that’, I am confident that she would also thank the filmmaker and wish that George indeed was so much involved in her life.


The True Story of George Austen was written by Icha for the Becoming Jane Fansite. It is adapted here with the author’s permission.

Although she admits that she did not know much about Jane Austen before watching the film, and although she understands that the movie is not 100% accurate, Icha was inspired by this film to learn more of the famous English author. She and her friends created the Becoming Jane Fansite to accommodate their research and interests about Jane Austen, Tom Lefroy and the film. She is now doing her PhD in Australia on marine mammal management. Reference: Faye, D. L. 1997, Jane Austen’s Letters, Oxford University Press, Oxford. Nokes, D. 1997, Jane Austen: A Life, Fourth Estate, London. Tomalin, C. 2000, Jane Austen: A Life, Penguin Books, London. Pic 1: George Austen (Philip Culhane) and Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) walking from the field, from annie- hathaway.com Pic 2: Mrs. Cassandra Austen, from University of Pennsylvania website Pic 3: Cover to Persuasion, Wordsworth Edition

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