Thanks to certain reviewers, who proved to be more observant than my former editor.
Miss Jane Austen began writing her novels when she was nineteen years of age. Three of these, after being revised and rewritten in later years, were eventually published and are among the world's best-loved books. It is well known that Jane Austen used familiar characters and scenes in her stories. Readers acquainted with both her life and works can connect the two, but attempts to identify the inspiration for her best-known characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, have failed. That, of course, does not mean that there were no such individuals. Very few details of Jane's early life remain, so we do not know what she may have done and whom she may have known.
But suppose Jane, then seventeen, accompanied her friend, Mrs Anne Lefroy, on a visit to Maybridge during the summer of 1793. She would have had an opportunity to meet Elizabeth, the delightful brown haired girl village girl, and the tall, dark, and proud young gentleman who was visiting nearby. She might attend dances and balls, and visit grand estates. No doubt romances would develop, but they would hardly proceed without some share of difficulty. They so rarely do.
Indeed, it had been the grandest time, Jane thought during the carriage ride home: young gentlemen lured into the gambling hells of London; William kidnapped by Elizabeth's uncle; Susan obliged to reject Henry's offer until his brother died; Mr Lackworth lurking around Bath where Georgianne kissed him. Yet with all that excitement, perhaps the people were even more memorable. Yes, she decided: William Darby and Elizabeth Tennet and their improbable engagement in spite of what happened at Westerly Manor, and dear George, who was so attentive toward her until he learned of the French barges. So many occurrences, Jane could not help but think of all the stories she would tell.