Two hundred years ago the public first got their hands on Jane Austen’s classic novel, “Pride and Prejudice” and centuries later its popularity endures.
At the Jane Austen House Museum in Hampshire in Southern England, where the author lived between 1809 and 1817 , a museum worker recreates the mood of the early nineteenth century, by walking through the charming home wearing the dress actress Anne Hathaway wore in the movie “Becoming Jane”.
“I don’t think you’d say it was even her greatest novel, but it is certainly her most popular one. And it encompasses all that’s great about the other novels in the groundbreaking work that Jane Austen was doing in transforming the novel of the eighteenth century into a novel very much like the ones we read today,” says curator Louise West.
The first editions of the English author’s novel came out on January 28, 1813 and the tale of manners and marriage was an instant hit with readers. It has never gone out of print.
West says Pride and Prejudice’s Bennet family and the frantic quest of Mrs Bennet to find husbands for her five daughters in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th century England resonates with many different cultures.
“I think particularly today there are some cultures who very much relate to the circumstances of the young women, about, you know, what their future is in the world and what their marriage choices are and that kind of thing. And so I think its resonances just keep on really.”
The first Hollywood adaptation was in 1940, with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier in the leading roles.
Bollywood fell in love with the tale and in 2004 “Bride and Prejudice” hit the movie screens starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Martin Henderson, who danced their way in joyful fashion through the plot.
This year “Austenland” will be released. A comedy about a young American woman who is obsessed with the BBC Pride and Prejudice series and who travels to Britain to stay in a stately home recreating the world of the novel in search for her perfect gentleman.
Two centuries after the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s fans believe her work is still as relevant today as it has ever been. It certainly seems that each subsequent generation has found its own slant on the story, and that its themes are likely to remain a source of inspiration for generations to come.