Fitzwilliam D’arcy, the dashing yet aloof hero in Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice was inspired by a Limerick man.
Descended from an old Huguenot family, Thomas Langlois Lefroy was born in Limerick in 1776 and went on to become Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.
Despite his political and academic renown, Austen’s ‘Irish friend’ is best known as the only known romantic interest of the iconic novelist.
In a letter dated January 1796 Austen writes: “I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together………. He is a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man, I assure you”
Their whirlwind romance began when the pair were introduced at a ball when Tom spent Christmas with relations in the parish where Austen’s father was a rector.