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Last Updated: Monday, 5 March 2007, 09:38 GMT
Star misses Jane Austen premiere
James McAvoy
James McAvoy play's Jane Austen's first love
The world premiere of Becoming Jane, about Jane Austen's early life, has been held - without some of its stars.

US actress Anne Hathaway, who plays the title role, did not attend the event in London's Leicester Square as she is in Canada shooting her next film.

James McAvoy, who plays Austen's first love, brought new wife, actress Anne-Marie Duff.

He defended the film from critics who say the idea Austen's romance moulded her literary genius is nonsense.

He said: "Definitely without a doubt she had a relationship with this man and they did many outrageous things for the time such as holding hands in public and doing more than five dances in a row.

"Shortly after he broke up the relationship, she burned all the letters from him."

McAvoy also defended the use of an American actress in the part, saying: "When you find a British person playing some great American icon no one bats an eyelid."

Hathaway spent a month in England researching the role and read Austen's letters in the British Library.

The film's other big stars, Dame Maggie Smith and Laurence Fox, were also absent from the premiere, but Julie Walters, who plays Austen's mother, did attend.

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