Although the terrible-but-somehow-compelling Becoming Jane claimed that the great love of Austen's life was
James MacAvoy Tom Lefroy, now a literary historian, Dr Andrew Norman, says the real culprit was a clergyman named Dr Samuel Blackall. As the Telegraph puts it, "Few of Austen's letters between 1801 and 1804 survive, making corroboration of the relationship difficult." But Blackall's correspondence, together with Austen's work from the period and a little sleight-of-geograohgical-timeline, point towards a (possible!) romance.
It's long been thought that this same period saw an estrangement between Jane and her beloved sister Cassandra - and, quite obviously, it was over this clergyman. At any rate, this is what Norman speculates, largely because The Watsons, which Austen wrote around this time, features a love affair doomed by a sister with "no faith, no honour, no scruples, if she can promote her own advantage" and a poem from the period which, read in the right way, supports the theory. Given the hijinx of many of Austen's heroines, it seems taking the biographical approach too far is a slippery slope - but yes! By all means let this be a movie! We recommend Hugh Dancy for the clergyman, and we'd like to direct casting directors' attention to Scarlett and Natalie's unimpeachable record of playing rival sisters who look nothing alike in very poor period pieces.