According to Jane Austen’s Letters fourth edition, collected and edited by Deirdre LeFaye — there is a letter dated either Tuesday 12, or Wednesday 13, January 1796 — missing from her correspondence. Unknown if these letters were fully destroyed by her sister Cassandra Austen or another family member, or if it was just misplaced and/or lost in time before her letters were considered valuable and collected.
Because this “missing letter” follows her confession to Cassandra about Mr. Tom Lefroy — it can be suspected that their discussion about the young man she favored may have very well continued. Often by now reading Jane Austen’s correspondence, I can get a sense of Cassandra Austen’s voice — from Jane’s responses — although often find myself longing to read the other side and investigate what Cassandra is saying in her correspondence. From Jane’s side it seems like they had a very close relationship and Jane was often missing her eldest sister. Seems Cassandra was the one who traveled more frequently, and went to stay with different relatives, chiefly sisters-in-laws to help with”lying in” and the care of the other children, before after the arrival of a new baby.
These missing letters are holes in Jane Austen’s biographical timeline and fodder for authors, ripe with opportunity to fill in the missing sequences with their own imagination.
There is a whole world of Jane Austen now — writers don’t just write prequels and sequels and stories inspired by her literary work or the characters she wrote, but they write inspired theories, stories, novels, and produce other media inspired by her and her life.