“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” (Featured image by Dave Hamster)
So begins Jane Austen’s timeless classic Pride and Prejudice, which celebrated its 200th anniversary at the end of January.
Following the lives of the Bennet family, namely the second eldest daughter Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice tackles the central themes of money, class, love and marriage.
Though the story is set at the turn of the 19th Century, and some of its elements have become a little outdated, the themes tackled and dilemmas faced by the central characters are as relevant today as they’ve always been.
The novel regularly appears in lists of the world’s best-loved books and is thought to have sold around 20 million copies in its 200-year lifetime.
The first edition, published on January 28 1813, was an instant hit. It was reprinted that same year, with a third edition published four years later. Since then, it has never been out of print.
Celebrations and exhibitions are taking place across the UK to mark 200 years of one of the greatest romantic novels ever written, and one of the best writers this country has ever produced.
The Royal Mail has produced this set of stamps featuring illustrations of her novels.
Where are the best “Austen” destinations around England?
This sleepy village in the heart of the South Downs is Austen’s birthplace and was her home until she was 26. Her father, George Austen, was a rector of the church in the village for much of Jane’s life.
The rectory where she discovered her love of writing, penning several poems and short stories, was demolished in the 19th Century, but the church remains largely unchanged from the Austens’ day.
As a child, Austen spent some time in Oxford with her sister where she was taught by a friend of the family.
Her brother James was studying at St John’s at the time and fans can visit the historic college and the Bodleian Library, which houses some original Austen manuscripts.
The historic city of Bath, with its iconic Georgian architecture, is much the same now as it was in Austen’s day, so is a must-visit for any fans.
Even just walking around the city will take you back to the 19th Century, while the Jane Austen Centre has plenty of information on Austen’s time in the city.
This year is obviously a special one for Bath, and the city is putting on a nine-day celebration of Austen’s life and work this September.
Chatsworth House, North Derbyshire
Austen famously based Mr Darcy’s grand Pemberly home on Chatsworth House, which she visited while staying in Derbyshire.
This famous estate was the filming location for the 2005 big-screen adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which starred Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.
Chatsworth House is open to the public all year round (you can even take Afternoon Tea there), and fans of the film adaptation will recognise the Painted Hall and the Sculpture Gallery from the production.
Basildon Park, Berkshire
Another star of the 2005 production was the elegant Basildon Park, in Berkshire. This grand setting was used as Netherfield Park, where Elizabeth and Mr Darcy first meet.
Both Basildon’s scenic grounds and grand interiors feature heavily in the film, with the lavish ballroom scenes taking place in the dining room.