Today in Literary History – January 28, 1813 – Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is published

Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice was published on January 28, 1813. Its opening line — “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” — is one of the most famous in English literature.

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The novel was sold as a three volume set and received good reviews from the start. The first edition quickly sold out. It was soon translated into other languages, including French and German, but wasn’t published in the United Sates until 1832.

Today, it is one of the best loved novels of all time, frequently topping lists of favourite books in magazine and newspaper surveys.

There nave been several movie and television adaptations as well as spin offs and parodies. Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary was a modern update of the story. There was a popular Young Adult “mash up” called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

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Authors like P.D. James, Sandra Lerner and Jo Baker have also written serious novels loosely set in the world of Pride and Prejudice as homages. Many “Regency romances” are also inspired by Austen’s work.

The novel’s concerns with love, marriage and money were remarkably frank for their day. Although there have been large societal changes in the past two centuries, Austen’s keen sense of human nature makes the book consistently relevant.

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