Pride and Prejudice was published more than 200 years ago, in 1813, but the book still speaks to us across the centuries. Written by Jane Austen when she was only 20, its original title was First Impressions. Like many great books, it was initially rejected by publishers and did not appear till years later, now under the title we know it by, Pride and Prejudice. By then, Austen had already had commercial success with Sense and Sensibility, a novel that also compares and contrasts two characters with the qualities (flaws) signalled in the title of the book.
Pride and Prejudice was a trailblazing book, not least because it has served as the template for every romance novel and Mills & Boon written since. The countless book and screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice speak to a story that has universal appeal, its characters and plotline appearing in everything from Bridget Jones’s Diary to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
But Pride and Prejudice is more than just a happily-ever-after story. Philosophers and literary scholars are just some of the experts we’ve interviewed who have chosen Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as essential reading on their topic. Along with many other people, it is Austen scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks’s favourite Austen book. As she explains below, it’s also a serious work. Exploring that theme, she produced Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, published by Harvard University Press, which includes over 2,000 annotations to the text.
You can read all our interviews featuring Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—and browse some of the original reviews and 19th century commentary on the book—below.