Pride and Prejudice
|Pride and Prejudice|
|Genre||Novel of manners, Satire|
|Publisher||T. Egerton, Whitehall|
|Publication date||28 January 1813|
|Media type||Print (Hardback, 3 volumes)|
|Preceded by||Sense and Sensibility|
|Followed by||Mansfield Park|
Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.
Though the story is set at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of "most loved books" such as The Big Read. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes. To date, the book has sold some 20 million copies worldwide.
As Anna Quindlen wrote,
Pride and Prejudice is also about that thing that all great novels consider, the search for self. And it is the first great novel that teaches us this search is as surely undertaken in the drawing room making small talk as in the pursuit of a great white whale or the public punishment of adultery.
- 1 Plot summary
- 2 Main characters
- 2.1 Elizabeth Bennet
- 2.2 Mr Darcy
- 2.3 Mr Bennet
- 2.4 Mrs Bennet
- 2.5 Jane Bennet
- 2.6 Mary Bennet
- 2.7 Catherine Bennet
- 2.8 Lydia Bennet
- 2.9 Charles Bingley
- 2.10 Caroline Bingley
- 2.11 George Wickham
- 2.12 William Collins
- 2.13 Lady Catherine de Bourgh
- 2.14 Aunt and Uncle Gardiner
- 2.15 Georgiana Darcy
- 2.16 Charlotte Lucas
- 2.17 Interrelationships
- 2.18 Family trees
- 3 Major themes
- 4 Style
- 5 Title
- 6 Publication history
- 7 Reception
- 8 Adaptations
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The novel centres on Elizabeth Bennet, the second of the five daughters of a country gentleman. Mr Bennet is a bookish man, and somewhat neglectful of his responsibilities. Mrs Bennet is a woman lacking in social graces and primarily concerned with finding suitable husbands for her five daughters. Jane Bennet, the eldest daughter, is distinguished by the kindness of her attitudes and her beauty; Elizabeth Bennet, the second daughter, shares her father's keen wit and occasionally sarcastic outlook; Mary is not pretty, but is studious, devout and musical albeit lacking in taste; Kitty, the fourth sister follows where her younger sister leads, while Lydia is flirtatious and unrestrained.
The narrative opens with news in the Bennet family that Mr Bingley, a wealthy, charismatic and sociable young bachelor, is moving into Netherfield Park in the neighbourhood. Mr Bingley is soon well received, while his friend Mr Darcy makes a less favourable impression by appearing proud and condescending at a ball that they attend (he detests dancing and is not much for light conversation). Mr Bingley singles out Jane for particular attention, and it soon becomes apparent that they have formed an attachment to each other, though Jane does not alter her conduct for him, confessing her great happiness only to Lizzie. By contrast, Darcy slights Elizabeth, who overhears and jokes about it despite feeling a budding resentment.
On paying a visit to Mr Bingley's sister, Caroline, Jane is caught in a heavy downpour, catches cold, and is forced to stay at Netherfield for several days. Elizabeth arrives to nurse her sister and is thrown into frequent company with Mr Darcy, who begins to act less coldly towards her.
Mr Collins, a clergyman, and heir to the Bennet estate, pays a visit to the Bennets. Mr Bennet and Elizabeth are much amused by his obsequious veneration of his employer, the noble Lady Catherine de Bourgh, as well as by his self-important and pedantic nature. It soon becomes apparent that Mr Collins has come to Longbourn to choose a wife from among the Bennet sisters (his cousins) and Elizabeth is singled out. Elizabeth forms an acquaintance with Mr Wickham, a militia officer who relates having been very seriously mistreated by Mr Darcy, despite having been a ward of Mr Darcy's father. This and Elizabeth's attraction to Mr Wickham, increase her dislike of Mr Darcy.
At a ball given by Mr Bingley at Netherfield, Mr Darcy becomes aware of a general expectation that Mr Bingley and Jane will marry, and the Bennet family, with the exception of Jane and Elizabeth, make a public display of poor manners and decorum. The following morning, Mr Collins proposes marriage to Elizabeth, who refuses him, much to her mother's distress. Mr Collins recovers and promptly becomes engaged to Elizabeth's close friend Charlotte Lucas, a homely woman with few prospects. Mr Bingley abruptly quits Netherfield and returns to London, devastating Jane, and Elizabeth becomes convinced that Mr Darcy and Caroline Bingley have colluded to separate him from Jane.
Jane is persuaded by letters from Caroline Bingley that Mr Bingley is not in love with her, but goes on an extended visit to her aunt and uncle Gardiner in London in the hope of maintaining her relationship with Caroline if not with Charles Bingley. Whilst there she visits Caroline and eventually her visit is returned. She does not see Mr Bingley and is forced to realise that Caroline doesn't care for her.
In the spring, Elizabeth visits Charlotte and Mr Collins in Kent. Elizabeth and her hosts are frequently invited to Rosings Park, home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Darcy's aunt; coincidentally, Darcy also arrives to visit. Elizabeth meets Darcy's cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, who vouches for Darcy's loyalty, using as an example how Darcy had recently stepped in on behalf of a friend, who had formed an attachment to a woman against whom "there were some very strong objections." Elizabeth rightly assumes that the said friend is none other than Mr Bingley, and her dislike of Darcy deepens. Thus she is of no mood to accept when Darcy arrives and, quite unexpectedly, confesses love for her and begs her hand in marriage. His proposal is flattering, he is a very distinguished man, but it is delivered in a manner ill suited to recommend it. He talks of love but also of revulsion at her inferior position and family. Despite assertions to the contrary, he assumes she will accept him. Elizabeth rebukes him, and a heated discussion follows; she charges him with destroying her sister's and Bingley's happiness, with treating Mr Wickham disgracefully, and with having conducted himself towards her in an arrogant, ungentleman-like manner. Mr Darcy, shocked, ultimately responds with a letter giving a good account of his actions: Wickham had exchanged his legacies for a cash payment, only to return after frittering away the money to reclaim the forfeited inheritance; he then attempted to elope with Darcy's young sister Georgiana, and thereby secure her fortune for himself. Regarding Jane and Bingley, Darcy claims he had observed no reciprocal interest in Jane for Bingley, and had assumed her not to be in love with him. In addition to this, he cites the "want of propriety" in the behaviour of Mr and Mrs Bennet and her three younger daughters. Elizabeth, who had previously despaired over this very behavior, is forced to admit the truth of Mr Darcy's observations, and begins to wonder whether she has misjudged him.
Some months later, Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle Gardiner visit Pemberley, Darcy's estate, believing he will be absent for the day. He returns unexpectedly, and though surprised, he is gracious and welcoming. He treats the Gardiners with great civility, surprising Elizabeth who assumes he will "decamp immediately" on learning who they are. Darcy introduces Elizabeth to his sister, and Elizabeth begins to acknowledge her attraction to him. Their re-acquaintance is cut short, however, by the news that Lydia has eloped with Mr Wickham. Elizabeth and the Gardiners return to Longbourne (the Bennet family home), where Elizabeth grieves that her renewed acquaintance with Mr Darcy will end as a result of her sister's disgrace.
Lydia and Wickham are soon found, and persuaded to marry thus enabling the Bennet family to preserve some appearance of decorum. Jane, Elizabeth and Mr Bennet realise that their Uncle Gardiner must have bribed Wickham to marry Lydia and are ashamed of their indebtedness and inability to repay him. Mrs Bennet, quite typically has no such scruples and is ecstatic. Mr and Mrs Wickham visit Longbourn, where Lydia lets slip that Mr Darcy was in attendance at their wedding but that this was to have been a secret. Elizabeth is able to discover by letter from her aunt Mrs Gardiner, that in fact Mr Darcy was responsible for finding the couple and negotiating their marriage, at great personal and monetary expense. Elizabeth is shocked and flattered as "her heart did whisper that he had done it for her" but is unable to dwell further on the topic due to Mr Bingley's return and subsequent proposal to Jane, who immediately accepts.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh pays an unexpected visit to Longbourn. She has heard a rumour that Elizabeth will marry Mr Darcy and attempts to persuade Elizabeth to agree not to marry. Lady Catherine wants Mr Darcy to marry her daughter (his cousin) Anne De Bourgh and thinks Elizabeth is beneath him. Elizabeth refuses her demands. Disgusted, Lady Catherine leaves, promising that the marriage can never take place. Elizabeth assumes she will apply to Darcy and is worried that he may be persuaded.
Darcy returns to Longbourne. Chance allows Elizabeth and Darcy a rare moment alone. She immediately thanks him for intervening in the case of Lydia and Wickham. He renews his proposal of marriage and is promptly accepted. Elizabeth soon learns that his hopes were revived by his aunt's report of Elizabeth's refusal to promise not to marry him.
The novel closes with a "happily-ever-after" chapter including a summary of the remaining lives of the main characters. There is no description of either Jane or Elizabeth's wedding. None of the characters change very much in this summary, but Kitty has grown slightly more sensible from association with Jane and Elizabeth and distance from Lydia, and Lady Catherine condescends to visit the Darcys eventually.
Elizabeth Bennet is the protagonist of the novel. The reader sees the unfolding plot and the other characters mostly from her viewpoint. The second of the Bennet daughters, she is twenty years old and is intelligent, lively, playful, attractive and witty but with a tendency to judge on first impression (the "prejudice" of the title) and perhaps to be a little selective of the evidence upon which she bases her judgments. As the plot begins, her closest relationships are with her father; her sister, Jane; her aunt, Mrs Gardiner; and her best friend, Charlotte Lucas. As the story progresses, so does her relationship with Mr Darcy. The course of Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship is ultimately decided when Darcy overcomes his pride, and Elizabeth overcomes her prejudice, leading them both to surrender to the love they have for each other. She is the third Bennet to marry, first being her younger sister Lydia to Wickham and the second being her older sister Jane to Bingley.
Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy is the male protagonist of the novel. Twenty-eight years old and unmarried, Mr Darcy is also the wealthy owner of the famous family estate of Pemberley in Derbyshire, and is rumored to be worth at least ten thousand pounds a year. In 2013, this amounts to almost eight hundred thousand dollars a year, although even this calibration fails to properly demonstrate Darcy's wealth. Such an income would have put him among the 400 wealthiest families in the country. Handsome, tall, and intelligent, but rather antisocial, his aloof decorum and rectitude are seen by many as excessive pride (the 'Pride' in the title). He makes a poor impression on strangers, such as the landed gentry of Meryton, but is valued by those who know him well. Throughout the progression of the plot, Darcy and Elizabeth are forced to be in each other's company, causing each character to see the other in a different light. At the end of the work, both overcome their differences and judgments to fall in love with each other.
Mr Bennet is the patriarch of the Bennet family, a gentleman of modest income with five unmarried daughters. Mr Bennet has an ironic, cynical sense of humour that he uses to irritate his wife. Though he loves his daughters (Elizabeth in particular), he often fails as a parent, preferring to withdraw from the never-ending marriage concerns of the women around him rather than offer help. Although he possesses inherited property, it is entailed —that is, it can only pass to male heirs—so his daughters will be on their own upon his death.
Mrs Bennet is the wife of her social superior Mr Bennet and mother of Elizabeth and her sisters. She is frivolous, excitable, and narrow-minded, and she imagines herself susceptible to attacks of tremors and palpitations. Her public manners and social climbing are embarrassing to Jane and Elizabeth. Her favourite daughter is the youngest, Lydia, who reminds her of herself when younger, though she values the beauty of the eldest, Jane. Her main ambition in life is to marry her daughters to wealthy men.
Jane Bennet is the eldest Bennet sister. Twenty-two years old when the novel begins, she is considered the most beautiful young lady in the neighbourhood. Her character is contrasted with Elizabeth's as sweeter, shyer, and equally sensible, but not as clever; her most notable trait is a desire to see only the good in others. As Anna Quindlen wrote, Jane is "sugar to Elizabeth's lemonade." Jane is closest to Elizabeth, and her character is often contrasted with that of Elizabeth. She is favoured by her mother because of her beauty.
She falls in love with Mr Bingley, a rich man who has recently moved to Hertfordshire. Their love is initially thwarted by Mr Darcy and Caroline Bingley who are concerned by Jane's low connections and have other plans for Bingley. Mr Darcy aided by Elizabeth eventually sees the error in his ways and is instrumental in bringing Jane and Bingley back together. Jane is the second Bennet to marry.
Mary Bennet is the only plain (not pretty) Bennet sister, and rather than join in some of the family activities, she mostly reads and practices music, although she is often impatient to display her accomplishments. She works hard for knowledge and accomplishment, but she has neither genius nor taste. Like her two younger sisters, Kitty and Lydia, she is seen as being silly by Mr Bennet. Mary is not very intelligent but thinks of herself as being wise. When Mr Collins is refused by Lizzy, Mrs Bennet hopes Mary may be prevailed upon to accept him and we are led to believe that Mary has some hopes in this direction but neither of them know that he is already engaged to Charlotte Lucas by this time. Mary does not appear often in the novel.
Catherine, or Kitty, Bennet is the fourth daughter at 17 years old. Although older than her, she is the shadow of Lydia and follows in her pursuits of the 'Officers' of the regiment. She appears but little, although she is often portrayed as envious of Lydia and also a 'silly' young woman. However, it is said that she has improved by the end of the novel.
Lydia Bennet is the youngest Bennet sister, aged 15 when the novel begins. She is frivolous and headstrong. Her main activity in life is socializing, especially flirting with the officers of the militia. This leads to her elopement with George Wickham. She dominates her older sister Kitty and is supported in the family by her mother. Lydia shows no regard for the moral code of her society, and no remorse for the disgrace she causes her family. She is the first Bennet sister to marry.
Charles Bingley is a handsome, good-natured, and wealthy young gentleman of 23, who rents Netherfield Park near Longbourn. He is contrasted with his friend Mr Darcy as being more kind and more charming and having more generally pleasing manners, although not quite so clever. He lacks resolve and is easily influenced by others. His two sisters, Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst, both disapprove of Bingley's growing affection for Jane Bennet.
Caroline Bingley is the snobbish sister of Charles Bingley; she has a dowry of twenty thousand pounds. Miss Bingley harbours romantic intentions for Mr Darcy, and she is jealous of his growing attachment to Elizabeth and is disdainful and rude to her. She attempts to dissuade Mr Darcy from liking Elizabeth by ridiculing the Bennet family in Darcy's presence, as she realises that this is the main aspect of Elizabeth with which she can find fault. She also attempts to convey her own superiority over Elizabeth, by being notably more polite and complimentary towards Darcy throughout. She often compliments his younger sister, Georgiana - suspecting that he will agree with what she says about her. Miss Bingley also disapproves of her brother's esteem for Jane Bennet, and it is acknowledged later that she, with Darcy, attempts to separate the couple. She sends Jane letters describing her brother's growing love for Georgiana Darcy, in attempt to convince Jane of Bingley's indifference towards her. When Jane goes to London she ignores her for a period of four weeks, despite Jane's frequent invitations for her to call upon her. When she eventually does, she is rude and cold, and is unapologetic for her failure to respond to Jane's letters. Jane, who is always determined not to find fault with anybody, is forced to admit that she had been deceived in thinking she had a genuine friendship with Caroline Bingley, the realisation of which she relays to Elizabeth in a letter.
George Wickham has been acquainted with Mr Darcy since childhood, having been under the guardianship of Mr Darcy's father. An officer in the militia, he is superficially charming and rapidly forms an attachment with Elizabeth Bennet. He spreads tales about the wrongs Mr Darcy has done him, adding to the local society's prejudice, but eventually he is found to have been the wrongdoer himself. He runs off with Lydia, which would disgrace her, but is eventually induced to marry her.
William Collins, aged 25, is Mr Bennet's clergyman cousin and heir to his estate. He is "not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society". Mr Collins is obsequious, pompous, and lacking in common sense. Elizabeth's rejection of Mr Collins's marriage proposal is welcomed by her father, regardless of the financial benefit to the family of such a match. Mr Collins then marries Elizabeth's friend, Charlotte Lucas.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who possesses wealth and social standing, is haughty, pompous, domineering, and condescending, although her manner is seen by some as entirely proper and even admirable. Mr Collins, for example, is shown to admire these characteristics by deferring to her opinions and desires. Elizabeth, by contrast, is duly respectful but not intimidated. Lady Catherine's nephew, Mr Darcy, is offended by her lack of manners, especially towards Elizabeth, and he later courts her disapproval by marrying Elizabeth in spite of her numerous objections.
Aunt and Uncle Gardiner
Aunt and Uncle Gardiner: Edward Gardiner is Mrs Bennet's brother and a successful businessman of sensible and gentlemanly character. Aunt Gardiner is close to her nieces Elizabeth and Jane. Jane stays with the Gardiners in London for a period, and Elizabeth travels with them to Derbyshire, where she again meets Mr Darcy. The Gardiners are quick in their perception of an attachment between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, and judge him without prejudice. They are both actively involved in helping Mr Darcy arrange the marriage between Lydia and Mr Wickham.
Georgiana Darcy is Mr Darcy's quiet, amiable, and shy younger sister, aged 16 when the story begins. When 15, Miss Darcy almost eloped with Mr Wickham, who sought her thirty thousand pound dowry. Miss Darcy is introduced to Elizabeth at Pemberley and is later delighted at the prospect of becoming her sister-in-law. Georgiana is extremely timid and gets embarrassed fairly easily. She idolises her brother Mr Darcy (Fitzwilliam Darcy), and the two share an extremely close sibling bond, much like Jane and Elizabeth. She is extremely talented at the piano, singing, playing the harp, and drawing. She is also very modest.
Charlotte Lucas is Elizabeth's friend who, at 27 years old, fears becoming a burden to her family and therefore agrees to marry Mr Collins, whom she does not love, to gain financial security. Though the novel stresses the importance of love and understanding in marriage (as seen in the anticipated success of Elizabeth–Darcy relationship and failure of Mr and Mrs Bennet relationship), Austen never seems to condemn Charlotte's decision to marry for money. Austen uses Lucas as the common voice of early 19th Century society's views on relationships and marriage.
Many critics take the novel's title as a starting point when analysing the major themes of Pride and Prejudice; however, Robert Fox cautions against reading too much into the title because commercial factors may have played a role in its selection. "After the success of Sense and Sensibility, nothing would have seemed more natural than to bring out another novel of the same author using again the formula of antithesis and alliteration for the title. It should be pointed out that the qualities of the title are not exclusively assigned to one or the other of the protagonists; both Elizabeth and Darcy display pride and prejudice."
A major theme in much of Austen's work is the importance of environment and upbringing on the development of young people's character and morality. Social standing and wealth are not necessarily advantages in her world, and a further theme common to Jane Austen's work is ineffectual parents. In Pride and Prejudice, the failure of Mr and Mrs Bennet as parents is blamed for Lydia's lack of moral judgment; Darcy, on the other hand, has been taught to be principled and scrupulously honourable, but he is also proud and overbearing. Kitty, rescued from Lydia's bad influence and spending more time with her older sisters after they marry, is said to improve greatly in their superior society.
The opening line of the novel announces: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." This sets the marriage motif of the novel. It turns out that rather than the man being in want of a wife, the woman is in want of a husband who is "in possession of good fortune". Charlotte Lucas, Lydia Bennet, Jane Bennet and Elizabeth Bennet get married to men that are sufficiently appropriate for each of them. Marriage becomes an economic rather than social activity. In the case of Charlotte, the seeming success of the marriage lies in the comfortable economy of their household. The relationship of Mr and Mrs Bennet serves to illustrate all that a marriage relationship should not be. Elizabeth and Darcy marry each other on equal terms after breaking each other's 'pride' and 'prejudice' and Austen clearly leaves the reader with the impression that the two will be the happiest.
Money plays a key role in the marriage market, not just for the young ladies who wish to secure a husband as rich as they can, but also for men who wish to marry a woman of means. Two examples are George Wickham, who tried to elope with Miss Darcy, and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Marrying a woman of a rich family also ensures a linkage to a high family as is visible in the desire of Bingley sisters to get their brother married to Miss Darcy.
Much of the pride and prejudice in the novel exists because of class divisions. Darcy's first impressions on Elizabeth are coloured by his snobbery. He cannot bring himself to love Elizabeth or at least acknowledge his love for her even in his own heart because of his pride. His first proposal clearly reflects this attitude: "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."  Also, Elizabeth quickly believes Wickham's account of Darcy because of her prejudice against him. Lady Catherine and the Bingley sisters belong to the snobbish category. Mr Bingley shows complete disregard to class.
Elizabeth and Darcy were not born a great match. It is through their interactions and their critiques of each other that they recognize their faults and work to correct them. Elizabeth meditates on her own mistakes thoroughly in chapter 36: "How despicably have I acted!" she cried; "I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable distrust. How humiliating is this discovery! yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself."
Pride and Prejudice, like most of Jane Austen's works, employs the narrative technique of free indirect speech. This has been defined as "the free representation of a character's speech, by which one means, not words actually spoken by a character, but the words that typify the character's thoughts, or the way the character would think or speak, if she thought or spoke". By using narrative that adopts the tone and vocabulary of a particular character (in this case, that of Elizabeth), Austen invites the reader to follow events from Elizabeth's viewpoint, sharing her prejudices and misapprehensions. "The learning curve, while undergone by both protagonists, is disclosed to us solely through Elizabeth's point of view and her free indirect speech is essential ... for it is through it that we remain caught, if not stuck, within Elizabeth's misprisions.".
- "The whole of this unfortunate business," said Dr. Lyster, "has been the result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE. ... Yet this, however, remember: if to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you will also owe their termination ..." [capitalization as in the original].
An earlier occurrence still is to be found in Chapter II of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire published in 1776. In the discussion of slavery the following sentence appears: "Without destroying the distinction of ranks, a distant prospect of freedom and honours was presented, even to those whom PRIDE AND PREJUDICE almost disdained to number among the human species".
Austen began writing the novel after staying at Goodnestone Park in Kent with her brother Edward and his wife in 1796. The novel was originally titled First Impressions by Jane Austen, and was written between October 1796 and August 1797. On 1 November 1797 Austen's father sent a letter to London bookseller Thomas Cadell to ask if he had any interest in seeing the manuscript, but the offer was declined by return of post.
Austen made significant revisions to the manuscript for First Impressions between 1811 and 1812. She later renamed the story Pride and Prejudice. In renaming the novel, Austen probably had in mind the "sufferings and oppositions" summarised in the final chapter of Fanny Burney's Cecilia, called "Pride and Prejudice", where the phrase appears three times in block capitals. It is possible that the novel's original title was altered to avoid confusion with other works. In the years between the completion of First Impressions and its revision into Pride and Prejudice, two other works had been published under that name: a novel by Margaret Holford and a comedy by Horace Smith.
Austen sold the copyright for the novel to Thomas Egerton of Whitehall in exchange for £110 (Austen had asked for £150). This proved a costly decision. Austen had published Sense and Sensibility on a commission basis, whereby she indemnified the publisher against any losses and received any profits, less costs and the publisher's commission. Unaware that Sense and Sensibility would sell out its edition, making her £140, she passed the copyright to Egerton for a one-off payment, meaning that all the risk (and all the profits) would be his. Jan Fergus has calculated that Egerton subsequently made around £450 from just the first two editions of the book.
Egerton published the first edition of Pride and Prejudice in three hardcover volumes on 27 January 1813. It was advertised in the Morning Chronicle, priced at 18s. Favourable reviews saw this edition sold out, with a second edition published in November that year. A third edition was published in 1817.
Foreign language translations first appeared in 1813 in French; subsequent translations were published in German, Danish, and Swedish. Pride and Prejudice was first published in the United States in August 1832 as Elizabeth Bennet or, Pride and Prejudice. The novel was also included in Richard Bentley's Standard Novel series in 1833. R. W. Chapman's scholarly edition of Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1923, has become the standard edition from which many modern publications of the novel are based.
The novel was well received, with three favourable reviews in the first months following publication. Anne Isabella Milbanke, later to be the wife of Lord Byron, called it "the fashionable novel". Noted critic and reviewer George Henry Lewes declared that he "would rather have written Pride and Prejudice, or Tom Jones, than any of the Waverley Novels".
Charlotte Brontë, however, in a letter to Lewes, wrote that Pride and Prejudice was a disappointment, "a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but ... no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck."
The poet W. H. Auden wrote of Austen in 1937:
You could not shock her more than she shocks me,
Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me most uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of 'brass',
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.
- In 2003 the BBC conducted the largest ever poll for the "UK's Best-Loved Book" in which Pride and Prejudice came second, behind The Lord of the Rings.
- In a 2008 survey of more than 15,000 Australian readers, Pride and Prejudice came first in a list of the 101 best books ever written.
Film, television, and theatre
Pride and Prejudice has engendered numerous adaptations. Some of the notable film versions include that of 1940 starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, (based in part on Helen Jerome's 1936 stage adaptation) and that of 2005 starring Keira Knightley (in an Oscar-nominated performance) and Matthew Macfadyen. Notable television versions include two by the BBC: the popular 1995 version starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and a 1980 version starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul. A 1936 stage version was created by Helen Jerome played at the St. James's Theatre in London, starring Celia Johnson and Hugh Williams. First Impressions was a 1959 Broadway musical version starring Polly Bergen, Farley Granger, and Hermione Gingold. In 1995, a musical concept album was written by Bernard J. Taylor, with Peter Karrie in the role of Mr Darcy and Claire Moore in the role of Elizabeth Bennet. A new stage production, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, The New Musical, was presented in concert on 21 October 2008 in Rochester, New York, with Colin Donnell as Darcy. A web series created by Hank Green and Pemberly Digital, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, also ran from April 2012 until March 2013. The LBD won an Emmy in the 2013 awards ceremony for Original Interactive Program.
The novel has inspired a number of other works that are not direct adaptations. Books inspired by Pride and Prejudice include: Mr. Darcy's Daughters and The Exploits and Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy by Elizabeth Aston; Darcy's Story (a best seller) and Dialogue with Darcy by Janet Aylmer; Pemberley: Or Pride and Prejudice Continued and An Unequal Marriage: Or Pride and Prejudice Twenty Years Later by Emma Tennant; The Book of Ruth by Helen Baker (author); Jane Austen Ruined My Life and Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo; Precipitation – A Continuation of Miss Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice by Helen Baker (author); Searching for Pemberley by Mary Simonsen and Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and its sequel Darcy & Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberly by Linda Berdoll.
In Gwyn Cready's comedic romance novel, Seducing Mr. Darcy, the heroine lands in Pride and Prejudice by way of magic massage, has a fling with Darcy and unknowingly changes the rest of the story.
Abigail Reynolds is the author of 8 Regency-set variations on Pride and Prejudice. Her Pemberley Variations series includes Mr. Darcy's Obsession, To Conquer Mr. Darcy, What Would Mr. Darcy Do, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World, and others. Her modern adaptation, The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice, is set on Cape Cod.
In March 2009, Quirk Books released Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which takes Austen's actual, original work, and mashes it up with zombie hordes, cannibalism, ninjas, and ultra-violent mayhem. In March 2010, Quirk Books published a prequel which deals with Elizabeth Bennet's early days as a zombie hunter, entitled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls.
In 2011, author Mitzi Szereto expanded on the novel in Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, a historical sex parody that parallels the original plot and writing style of Jane Austen.
Marvel has also published their take on this classic, releasing a short comic series of five issues that stays true to the original storyline. The first issue was published on 1 April 2009 and was written by Nancy Hajeski. This was published as a graphic novel in 2010 with artwork by Hugo Petrus.
Pamela Aidan is the author of a trilogy of books telling the story of Pride and Prejudice from Mr Darcy's point of view entitled Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. The books are An Assembly Such as This, Duty and Desire and These Three Remain.
The six-part BBC comedy series Blackadder the Third (1987), set vaguely in the late 18th to early 19th centuries, parodies the double titles Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice in the titles of its episodes: "Dish and Dishonesty", "Ink and Incapability", "Nob and Nobility", "Sense and Senility", "Amy and Amiability", and "Duel and Duality".
A graphic novel sequel entitled Mary King was written by Sophie St. Clair and released in 2011.
In 2009 Ulysses Press and MJF Books released Darcy's Passions, A Novel written by Regina Jeffers. It tells the story of Pride and Prejudice through Darcy's eyes based on Darcy's three passions: his sister, Pemberley, and his love for Elizabeth Bennet, spanning from when he meets Elizabeth to the beginning of their married life. Jeffers' Pride & Prejudice adaptations also include Darcy's Temptations (also titled Darcy's Dreams), The Phantom of Pemberley, and Vampire Darcy's Desire.
- "BBC – The Big Read". BBC. 13 December 2003. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
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- Quindlen, Anna (1995). "Introduction". Pride and Prejudice. New York: Modern Library. p. vii. ISBN 0-679-60168-6.
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