Today is a special day in the world of Austen lovers: It is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s “darling child” Pride and Prejudice!
Bloggers all over the web are sharing their love for Pride and Prejudice today. Indeed it is a BIG event! Lots of fun & lots of giveaways! I am going to share my thoughts and other fun bits in a moment, but let’s begin with a short history lesson. According to Wikipedia (and cross-referenced at several other places for accuracy) here are the facts–
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, 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, possibly 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 with the original 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 in January 1813, priced at 18 shillings. Favourable reviews saw this edition sold out, with a second edition published in November that year. A third edition was published in 1817. It was translated into French in 1813.
For more information on Jane Austen, read the Biography I wrote and posted in The Library at Pemberley.
My story, in a nutshell~~
My appreciation for Pride and Prejudice, and then Jane Austen, came later in my life and was not originally inspired by the novel. My first initiation into the world inhabited by Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet was the 2005 movie adaptation by Joe Wright, starring Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley. I anxiously walked into the movie theater over Thanksgiving weekend in 2005 not because I was enthused about an Austen adaptation, but simply because I adore period movies and love romantic stories. I was excited about the movie, true, yet did not anticipate it being a turning point in my life.
Everything about the movie knocked my socks off – the acting, cinematography, music, story, all of it! I thought it was FABULOUS! An obsession to learn more about the movie creators immediately drove me to the internet. Fortuitously, my daughter returned to school after the holiday break and began reading Pride and Prejudice for her AP Literature class. What a boon! I bought a copy, and together we read the novel and conducted her class studies together.
From there it was one snowballing step after another, the story of my immersion into writing and Austen told in greater depth on the About Sharon and in the FAQ section in The Library at Pemberley. For me, love of Austen and this novel go hand-in-hand with love for the movie. I no longer apologize for this. One does not have to be mutually exclusive from the other, which is why my novels blend the visuals and altered interpretations from the movie with the story as written by Jane Austen. I love and revere both!
In my Portrait Gallery I have image albums for each of my novels, Regency, Georgian, and Indian fashion, and also an album of stills from the 2005 movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. On top of that I have a wonderful collection of publicity photos and film shots of Matthew Macfadyen! Check it out: Sharon Lathan’s Portrait Gallery
Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice have withstood the passage of time and are stronger than ever. What other author has persevered for as long, amassing an ever-increasing number of fans and spawning a plethora of cinema adaptations, fan-fiction novels, merchandise, websites, scholarly societies, a whole romance genre, and so much more? I can’t think of a one!
Lots of Austenesque bloggers are celebrating this week.
To add to the fun, I am including one copy of my debut novel, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, an eBook version (Kindle or Nook), to one lucky person! Just comment on this post, telling me when you first read Pride & Prejudice and who your favorite character is. Deadline for this giveaway is January 31, 2013, but of course my ongoing weekly giveaway for an ARC of The Passions of Dr. Darcy won’t end until March!