Jane Austen’s enchanting novels about love and marriage are unrivaled in Western literature. It is an irony that the author herself never married. Was she ever in love?

Rudyard Kipling certainly thought so. In his poem “Jane’s Marriage,” the dashing but financially shaky Captain Wentworth of Austen’s “Persuasion” stands in for the love of Jane’s life. Some scholars say Austen’s beloved was a young Irishman named Tom Lefroy. Others dismiss the idea of such a romance as poppycock. Austen’s relatives destroyed most of her letters, so the matter has primarily been one of speculation.

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