Pride and Prejudice made its debut in January, 1813, sixteen years after Jane finished the first draft titled First Impressions. As was the practice with female authors of her time, the novel did not bear her name, and she was identified only as "The Author of Sense and Sensibility."
Three years after the novel's debut, her real name was most definitely associated with the book. Sir Walter Scott wrote in his diary in March, 1816: Read again for the third time at least, Miss Austen's finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with.
Jane's letters to her niece, Anna Austen, an aspiring writer herself, illuminated Jane's views towards writing about her characters: You are now collecting your people delightfully, getting them exactly into such a spot as is the delight of my life; 3 or 4 families in a country village is the very thing to work on.
One can easily imagine the early editions of this novel being sold by Messrs. Lackington Allen & Co, booksellers at the Temple of Muses, Finsbury Square. Theirs was one of the first cash booksellers in London. The book has been in print ever since it was first published. Today we know it in many forms, as a novel, a Great Illustrated Classics, movie interpretations, books on tape, podcasts, screensavers, paper dolls, tours, memorabilia, and as downloadable PDF files on the Internet.
If you are patient, you can watch the creation of a comic book version of the novel on flickr. Liz Wong, the artist, began the comic a year ago. She has reached the scene at Netherfield when Caroline Bingley first notices Mr. Darcy's attraction for Elizabeth. It will take her a while to draw the entire book, but something tells me the wait will be worthwhile. The first page is drawn awkwardly, but she gets better with each page, getting the feel for the characters, and finding ways to condense the book but still retain the gist of the story.
Read more about Pride and Prejudice in the following selection: Inside Pride and Prejudice, John Halperin
Jane Austen: My Dear Cassandra, Selected and introduced by Penelope Hughes-Hallett, ISBN 1-85585-004-4