This year commemorates the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice. Fifteen years after its initial rejection, publisher Thomas Egerton printed Pride and Prejudice on January 18, 1813. Austen eventually created six novels, and was writing a seventh when she died on July 18, 1817.
Of the 1,500 first-edition volumes Egerton printed, only a few complete versions are known to exist, including this copy from the Newberry’s collection. The first-edition Pride and Prejudice, pictured above, was printed in 1813 in London as a set of three volumes. Austen is identified on the title page only as “the author of Sense and Sensibility.” The name “Abby Tallmadge” is inscribed inside the front cover, indicating the book was likely donated to the Newberry in 1957 by Abby Louise Tallmadge, who wrote her dissertation on Austen.
The story of the Bennet family’s romantic mishaps continues to engage modern readers, but it is Austen’s depictions of human nature, generous doses of humor, and exploration of moral and social themes that have earned this classic “marriage plot” its distinguished position in the Western literary canon.
Celebrate Austen’s most popular novel by signing up for the Newberry’s upcoming fall seminar, “200 Years of Pride and Prejudice: An Exploration of Jane Austen’s Novel,” or join us for this year’s Book Fair, July 25 – 28, and pick up your own set of Austen’s works.