Mystery Jane Austen suitor who sparked rift with sister named

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A new biography of Jane Austen claims to have identified Dr Samuel Blackall as the mystery suitor who broke the novelist's heart and sparked a rift with her sister.

Although Austen never married, the emotional warmth of her romantic novels has always fed speculation about her private passions.

The 2007 film Becoming Jane explored her youthful flirtation with a handsome Irishman named Tom Lefroy who – it is suggested – was the inspiration for the rugged Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

But now a literary historian claims 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.

According to Dr Andrew Norman, Dr Blackall's letters to friends disclose his wish to pursue a courtship with the young author, but his uncertainty was treated as a snub by Austen.

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