Pride and Prejudice

This is a good day for literature: on January 28, 1813, one of my all-time favorite books, Pride and Prejudice, was published by Thomas Egerton of Whitehall, who purchased the copyright from Jane Austen for £100. Austen wrote the first draft of the novel—then called First Impressions—between October 1796 and August 1797. Her father asked a London bookseller named Thomas Cadell if he had any interest in the book, but Cadell did not. Austen continued to tweak her manuscript between 1811 and 1812, retitling it, and eventually sold it to Egerton, who published the first edition in three hardcover volumes priced at 18s. The book received favorable reviews and sold out, so a second eidition was published in November. The third edition was published in 1817. Pride and Prejudice first appeared in French in 1813 and was subsequently published in German, Danish, and Swedish. It didn’t arrive in the United States until 1832, when it was rather oddly titled Elizabeth Bennet or, Pride and Prejudice. Since its publication, Pride and Prejudice has become one of the best known and best-loved books in the English language. In a 2003 poll of the UK’s Best-Loved Book, Pride and Prejudice came second, just behind The Lord of the Rings. In 2008, Australian readers placed it first on a list of the 101 best books ever written. It’s been adapted for the stage and screen around the world, has inspired sequels and spinoffs and even a bestselling spoof horror mashup novel: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (because really what Longbourn needed was a few zombies, right?)

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