Jane Austen began writing First Impressions in 1796 and she finished it in August of the following year. Her father tried to find a publisher for the book and wrote to a London publisher, Thomas Cadell, asking if he would be interested in seeing the manuscript. Mr Cadell turned it down! Around 1810 to 1811 she revised the novel, and in 1813 she altered its title to Pride and Prejudice, as another book named First Impressions had just appeared in print. After getting Sense and Sensibility published in 1811, Jane Austen sent Pride and Prejudice to the same publisher, Thomas Egerton, who produced it in January 1813, as a three volume novel. On the title page it announced that it was ‘By the Author of Sense and Sensibility’.
The story is set in Hertfordshire where Mr and Mrs Bennet live with their five daughters. Elizabeth travels to Kent, London and Derbyshire and then back to Longbourn, her Hertfordshire home.
The opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice has justly become one of the most famous of all opening lines and the novel’s title is now a well-known catchphrase. It is the most sparkling and happy of Jane Austen’s books, and it has always been the most popular, with film versions, translations, sequels and adaptations innumerable.
It’s heroine Elizabeth Bennet is one of the most charming and loved heroines in all literature, while Mr Darcy has become a model for romantic and sexy heroes ever since. Jane Austen loved her characters (‘I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print’) and looked for their likenesses in art galleries and spoke to relatives about their fictional lives outside of the novel. Both hero and heroine learn about themselves and other people as the story progresses. The book also has some of her best comic creations, such as Mr Collins.
Readers around the world celebrated in 2013 the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. It has been voted the ‘most romantic novel ever written’, and the ‘favourite book of all time’. The world loves Pride and Prejudice.
Caption: Illustration from Pride and Prejudice by Robert Ball, 1945