For all my fellow Janeites and Anglophiles, I hope you will enjoy this post packed with photos, facts and interesting tidbits on our beloved Jane and her novel Pride and Prejudice. But first, take a look at this cool Union Jack prepaid Visa that I received last month from card.com (who sponsored this post).
They have hundreds of designs to choose from (including the London Skyline). If you would like one of these, simply visit card.com and select your favorite design. Then enter your personal information and in just a few days your card will arrive at your home. Once you receive it, you can load it with funds from your bank account, your Paypal account, or even set up direct deposit for the card. This would be an excellent way to access your money on your next trip to the land of Austen!
And now, on to Jane…
As you may or may not know, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. Though Jane Austen initially tried to have it published under the title of First Impressions, in 1797 when she was 21 years old, it was 16 years later on January 28, 1813, that the first edition was finally published.
Jane shied away from attention and notice. In fact, her first book, Sense and Sensibility, did not bear her name, but rather read, “by a Lady.” And when Pride and Prejudice was published, it was “by the author of ‘Sense and Sensibility.’” Her identity wasn’t revealed to the general populace until after her death in 1817.
Pride and Prejudice was by far her most popular novel, even while she was living, and she referred to it as “my own darling child.” It was the very first Austen novel I read, and like so many millions around the world, I was instantly hooked. The intelligence and wit with which this maiden authoress wrote was absolutely brilliant! I had to read more!
A resurgence for all things “Jane” began in 1995 when the BBC produced a mini-series adapted from the book, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I absolutely adore this movie and have watched it more times than I care to admit. Though there have been many film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, this one remains the classic favorite. (Sorry, Matthew Macfadyen!)
And so the bicentennial celebration of Jane’s “darling child” began around the world in January, but many festivities were not enjoyed in England until last month. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hop on a jet and cross the Pond to attend these extravagant galas, so I had to console myself by reminiscing over photos from when my husband and I made our literary tour of England several years ago.
Of course we had to make a pilgrimage to Chawton Village in Hampshire. In fact, it was the first stop on our trip! We rented a car at Heathrow Airport and drove straight to Chawton Cottage. We actually arrived a full hour before her home opened for touring, but the gracious gentleman there allowed us to come in and explore anyway. It was lovely!
If you have never visited the Jane Austen House, you can click here for a virtual tour.
After our time in Chawton, we headed to Bath where we toured Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths, and the Royal Pump Rooms (and yes, the water tasted disgusting!)…
and we visited the Jane Austen Centre.
Later on, we traveled to the Peak District and toured Chatsworth, a.k.a. “Pemberly.” This was the house that was used for the exterior shots of Mr. Darcy’s grand estate in the 1995 BBC version. Chatsworth is a lovely house where Mary, Queen of Scots stayed while in custody of the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury from 1570 to 1581.
And since we’re extremists, 😉 we drove up to Gretna Green, Scotland to see the place where it was thought that Lydia Bennet and Mr. Wickham ran off to get married. Below is the Old Blacksmith’s Shop which had a “marriage room” where eloping English couples were married since Scottish law allowed “irregular” marriages to take place.
We visited a number of homes of other English authors (click here to view pictures of the Brontë sisters’ home), but Jane Austen got the most time and attention, by far!
Now, a few interesting (or odd) facts about the mini-series, Pride and Prejudice:
Speaking of his role as Mr. Darcy, Colin Firth said, “When I was about to play the part, everybody I knew was horrified and astonished. Women I knew said, ‘Don’t – you’ll ruin it forever!’”
Little did they know he would forever be in the hearts of women around the world! In fact, the scene at Pemberly when Mr. Darcy jumps into the lake for a swim has been viewed on youtube.com over 3 million times? Weird, I know!
But what’s even more strange is the fact that Hyde Park in London recently erected a statue in honor of that scene. Personally, I think that just borderlines on creepy!
(Click on the picture to read more about it.)
Have you seen all of the Jane Austen novel adaptations? (There are other versions, but these are my favorites of each.) Click on the images below to check out and/or purchase (but please read the parental reviews on Mansfield Park before doing so):
Seen all those, but want to watch more? Click on the images below to check out and/or purchase (but please read the parental reviews on The Jane Austen Book Club before doing so):
Want to read more novels in the style of Jane Austen and set in the Regency period? Check out the novels by Georgette Heyer.
Want to find out more about the daily life of 19th century England? Then I highly recommend this fun resource:
And finally, if you’ve never checked out my Jane Austen quotes, The Wit & Wisdom of Jane Austen, click on the image below:
Alisha Gratehouse is an artist, art instructor, minister’s wife, and homeschooling mom of three. Her days are filled with creating, painting, writing, drinking lots of tea, laughing with (and at) her family, and spontaneously bursting forth into song. Alisha is the author of several books including, A Life That Flourishes.