Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s most popular novel and one of the most widely-read books in the English language. Jane Austen loving referred to it as ‘my own darling child’ but famously worried about it being ‘rather too light & bright & sparkling.’ It is, however, the novel’s bright and sparkling wit that has captured readers’ hearts over the years. Pride and Prejudice has been the most adapted for television and film of all of Jane Austen’s novels.In a 2003 British poll, it was also voted the best-loved novel by a female author.
Pride and Prejudice, originally published in 1813, started life as First Impressions. The first draft was written by Jane Austen, aged twenty (the same age as Elizabeth Bennet), over a ten month period, beginning in October 1796 and ending in August 1797. Jane Austen’s family and particularly her father, George, were very pleased with it and it became a family favourite. George Austen, who was encouraging of his daughter’s writing, offered the manuscript to the publisher, Cadell, unbeknownst to Jane, and enquired into the expense of publishing it at the author’s own risk. Making one of the biggest mistakes in publishing history, Cadell rejected the manuscript. First Impressions underwent a number of revisions over the coming years, including of course its change of title to Pride and Prejudice. Jane is known to have ‘lop’t and crop’t’ the manuscript in 1811 after the publication of Sense and Sensibility, and the copyright was finally sold to Thomas Edgerton of the military library in Whitehall for £110. Almost sixteen years after the first draft was written, Pride and Prejudice was published as a novel in three volumes ‘by the author of Sense and Sensibility’ in late January 1913.
Click here for a summary of the story, but infinitely more agreeable would be to read the full text of the novel here: