She lived in an age distinguished by its literary intimacies and exchanges; we cannot think of the so-called Romantic period without thinking of the networks of friendship among its leading writers. Jane Austen knew not a single notable author, even distantly. ... There are a couple of poignant passages in her letters where she looks forward to the possibility of meeting the poet George Crabbe -- then acknowledges that she has missed her chance of doing so. In his memoir, Henry Austen recalls a planned meeting with the French novelist and intellectual Germaine de Staël, which duly never took place.
by John Mullan