200 Years of Pride and Prejudice
When Jane Austen first started writing Pride and Prejudice, one of the most famous and beloved books in all of English literature, she was 21 years old. Originally titled First Impressions, the novel was rejected, sight unseen, by a publisher. Fifteen years later, settled in the English village of Chawton with her mother and sister, Austen perched at a small round table in the dining room, took up First Impressions again, revised it, and re-titled it Pride and Prejudice. Without an extensive formal education and a room of her own, Austen had just written what many consider to be the perfect novel, a novel that would enter the minds and hearts of millions of people from the time of its publication to the current day. Pride and Prejudice was published 200 years ago in 1813.
This online exhibit was created in conjunction with a physical exhibit held at the Thomas Tredway Library during fall term 2013 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. It showcases editions of Pride and Prejudice from some of its earliest days to current manifestations. Most of the items featured in this exhibit are held by Special Collections and can be seen in person by visitors. A few items were loaned by private individuals for the purposes of this exhibit.
Many items in the exhibit have more than one image. To see the other images, click on the image in the exhibit.
by Sarah Horowitz, with Margi Rogal and Stefanie Bluemle
Illustrated editions of Jane Austen became common in the nineteenth century, and increased her appeal. Often, the appeal of a new edition would be the illustrations, rather than the text of the novel.
It was only during the late 1800s that she became “Jane Austen,” a grand dame of British novels, a cultural icon, a writer of tidy miniature dramas played out on bits of ivory. The Austen revival was greatly influenced by the emergence of illustrated editions of Austen’s works in the 1890s.
Pride and Prejudice has inspired many sequels, modern retellings, and other versions of the story. Some of these use Austen’s original texts, while others adapt, condense or change the text for different audiences.
There have been many editors of Pride and Prejudice throughout its long history, and these editors have influenced Austen's reputation as a novelist and the way critics have studied the text.