As most of you are probably aware today is an important date, not only for us Janeites but for the literary world in general. It was on this day, the 28th of January 1813, 200 years ago that one of the greatest books of all time was first published: Pride and Prejudice.
Since that day it has been read by millions of people all over the world. Generation after generation has been delighted, enchanted and captivated by the story of the spirited and witty Elizabeth Bennet and the broody and proud but oh so fascinating Mr Darcy.
200 years is a long time. And yet the book is probably loved by more people today than it has ever been before! Surely that must be the sign of a REAL classic!
In a letter written to her sister Cassandra on the 29th of January 1813 Jane Austen writes “I want to tell you that I have got my own darling Child from London”. We can only imagine the feelings she must have felt on first holding in her hand that copy of her own beautiful book, Pride and Prejudice. And I can’t help but hope that a little part of her knew that 200 years from that day her “darling child” would still be read and loved by millions, and considered one of the greatest literary masterpieces that were ever written. I hope she knew.
So this is a special day, and I want to say two things. First, thank you Jane! And secondly, Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice!!
“You must know… surely, you must know it was all for you. You are too generous to trifle with me. I believe you spoke with my aunt last night, and it has taught me to hope as I’d scarcely allowed myself before. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”
~Mr Darcy – Pride and Prejudice