I can’t remember the first time I read Pride and Prejudice. I read Emma at the age of 17 as part of my English Literature syllabus, my battered copy is dated August 1977 when I was 16. My copy of Pride and Prejudice [below] is dated January 1980 and was bought in my first year at university. The story
Is this the most well-known story? Young woman meets young man, each dislikes the other on sight and are therefore destined to fall in love. But along the way, Jane Austen offers us a study of manners, a humorous portrait of a family of girls who have no fortune of their own and therefore must make a fortunate match. The first sentence is one of the most quoted: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’ But this is so much more than a romance.
For me, the best dramatic version of the book is the UK television series, broadcast in 1995 [below]. Featuring a young Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, it is famous for its ‘wet shirt’ scene. I prefer Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie Bennet, rather than Keira Knightly in the 2005 film version.
I also have a soft spot for the 1940 Hollywood version [below] featuring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. It starts on a cheerful note, ‘It happened in OLD ENGLAND… in the village of Meryton…’ The capitals are as featured in the credits of the film.
The first edition
The first editions cost a fortune. This one, in three volumes, is described by seller Peter Harrington as ‘By the author of Sense and Sensibility’ and is priced at £87,500. It was first offered by her father, then titled First Impressions, to Thomas Cadell in 1797 who declined it without seeing the manuscript. It was published in 1813 in London by T Egerton.
‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen [UK: Wordsworth Classics] Buy at Amazon
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Still loved: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen #oldbooks via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2gO