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It has long been surmised that Jane Austen, who wrote so brilliantly of romantic relationships yet herself remained unmarried, never knew undying passion. Yet recently, this notion has been turned upside down by several Austen historians who have proposed the possibility of a fervid romance between 20 year-old Jane, fresh off beginning her adult writing career, and the equally young, ambitious and smart Irishman Tom Lefroy. Was it this seemingly brief, deep love affair – with its apparent rapid build-up and heartrending demise -- that inspired the great romantic novels Austen was about to write?

The full truth of what really happened between Austen and Lefroy will never be known. The importance and extent of Austen's true feelings for Lefroy will continue to be hotly debated. And yet, the thrilling notion of Jane Austen in the middle of her own heated, rebellious love story was nearly irresistible to fertile imaginations who saw it as an intriguing jumping off point for a fictional, fun romantic comedy in the Austen spirit.

Thus was born BECOMING JANE, a film that boldy imagines what might have happened if a youthful Jane Austen fell in love. The story not only places Jane at the center of her own courtship story, but merrily and artfully filters characters and elements from each of Austen's six novels into the mix. Bringing a modern sensibility to the story is director Julian Jarrold, who made a rousing feature film debut with the critically admired comedy KINKY BOOTS. The film pairs rising young stars Anne Hathaway, most recently seen starring in the hit comedy THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, and James McAvoy, who came to the fore in the Oscar®-winning THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, as Jane Austen and the man who, perhaps, might have stolen her heart and awakened her still deliciously relevant views on how status, money, family, freedom and true love really work.

There have, of course, been scores of movies drawn from or inspired by Austen's famous books – Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park – ranging from boldly contemporary comedies to painstaking period adaptations. Indeed, People Magazine recently declared that we are living "in a Jane Austen moment.” As Joan Ray – an Austen scholar, former President of the Jane Austen Society of North America and Professor of English at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs – notes: "The amazing thing about Jane Austen is that she appeals to pop culture, to academic scholars, and to everyone in between. She's so multi-layered and so in tune with human nature, she can be approached on so many different levels.”

Yet, suprisingly, Austen herself has never been a cinematic character, until now.

It all began when screenwriter Sarah Williams first learned about the possible serious romance between Austen and Lefroy – and couldn't help but try to envision what might have really gone on between them, behind doors that will always be closed to us more than 200 years later. Williams was aware that there was only a handful of known facts about Austen and Lefroy, which had produced multiple interpretations, ranging from biographer Jon Spence's belief in their sharing a deep and abiding love to others who saw nothing but the couple's enjoying a frivolous flirtation between them. But this open-ended reality would allow Williams, and later co-writer Kevin Hood, the freedom to turn the speculative story of Austen' youthful flirtations into the kind of delightful and dramatically satifsying romantic fiction Austen herself continues to inspire.

Wiliams approached Douglas Rae and Robert Bernstein of Ecosse Films, which had previously won acclaim for the film MRS. BROWN, starring Judi Dench in another unlikely love story between historical figures – that of Queen Victoria, the most powerful woman in the world, and the l

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