Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and is one of six novels written by England’s favourite author, Jane Austen. Adapted hundreds of times in film, TV and literature, the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy is a timeless classic – but it doesn’t mean there aren’t still some surprising facts to discover about this enchanting tale.
1. Its original title was ‘First Impressions’.
3. The friendship between Jane and Elizabeth Bennet mirrors Jane’s own relationship with her sister Cassandra, who was her best friend and closest confidante.
4. Like many of Austen’s early works, Pride and Prejudice was originally told in letters. This was a common style at the time, and Sense and Sensibility was similarly reworked to a third person narrative – however, many of the letters remain in the final edit.
5. At first glance, the title appears to refer to Mr Darcy’s pride, and Elizabeth’s prejudice against him – however, closer inspection reveals that both characters possess both qualities, with Elizabeth’s pride being hurt by Darcy’s rejection and Darcy being prejudice against Elizabeth because of her social class. The novel reveals the characters growing together to amend their pride and remove their prejudices of each other and the world in which they live.
6. The novel got its name from Fanny Burney’s Cecilia, one of Austen’s favourite novels which uses the phrase three times.
7. Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte Lucas demonstrates the practical, legal side of marriage. At 27, she is already considered ‘past it’ by society’s standards, and her marriage to Mr Collins is one of practicality and financial security. Her opinion on marriage – and her actions – show the reality of marriage for women in the early 1800s: not everyone has the luxury of waiting for a Darcy.
8. The novel was first finished in 1797 but was not published for another 16 years!
9. And when it was published, it was anonymously – being a female writer professionally was still controversial.
10. Mr Darcy’s first name is Fitzwilliam – which doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily!
11. The novel made Austen little money as she sold the book outright rather than taking royalties – she was given £110, although the first run made the publisher more than four times that, and Austen never saw a penny of it.
12. Pride and Prejudice was the family favourite – Austen often read excerpts for feedback, and her close family and friends loved this novel as much as the public do.