Celebrating a Special Anniversary

 pride_and_prejudice12There are a lot of Jane Austen fans celebrating (and blogging) today, because this is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice on January 28, 1813. We’re celebrating the book itself – reason enough – but also what it has meant to us personally. To some, it means their lives are a little richer than they would have been otherwise. For others, like me, it is more; the publication of Pride and Prejudice quite literally changed my life.
Now, I want to be careful here, not to raise Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice to idol status or to imply that they are the most important things in my life. For me, it’s God first, family second, and everything else a distant third. But what discovering Jane Austen (and P&P in particular) did for me was to launch me on a new and interesting career that I might never have stumbled upon otherwise.
You see, A Three-Hour TourI was minding my own business – raising two sons and pursuing a very sensible career as a dental hygienist – when an ordinary trip to Costco ten years ago changed everything. That was the day a copy of the ’95 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice fairly leapt off the shelf and into my oversized shopping cart. After watching the mini-series, I was hopelessly hooked on the story, Colin Firth’s Darcy, and all things Jane Austen.
One may guess what followed – compulsive reading, late-night trips to the library and video store, secret rendezvous with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley. Finally, only one thing remained. My dedication (or obsession, as it arguably might be described) ultimately inspired me to begin writing my own stories a la Austen.
As a result, I now I have two published novels and a third coming out in less than a month. And no one could be more surprised about it than I am! It’s been a true blessing to have been given something new, interesting, and creatively satisfying to do at this stage in my life… and also to have been able to give up my “day job” guilt free! All this because of a book written 200 years ago!
I’ve told you some of my reactions to the subject of today’s celebration. I thought you might like to hear what Jane Austen herself had to say about Pride and Prejudice – her “first impressions” of the newly published novel. This is from a letter to her sister Cassandra, dated January 29, 1813:
I feel that I must write to you today… I want to tell you that I have got my own darling child from London. On Wednesday I received one copy sent down by Falkener… The advertisement is in our paper today for the first time… Miss B. dined with us on the very day of the book’s coming and in the evening we fairly set at it, and read half the first volume to her… She really does seem to admire Elizabeth. I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.
I can relate to Jane Austen’s excitement at holding her “darling child” in her hands for the first time, her thrill at seeing a reader warm to her characters and story, and also with her horror at the thought that some might not appreciated what she had created. She need not have worried, though. How astonished Jane would have been to know that fans world-wide would continue celebrating the publication of Pride and Prejudice into the 21st century! 
To read other Janeites’ thoughts on the subject, continue your blog tour here. Or add your own by comment below.

About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
This entry was posted in History, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Quotes, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Celebrating a Special Anniversary

  1. Marbeth says:

    Shannon a fan from Honduras Central America, I love Pride and Prejudice and Im celebrating the 200 years of this wonderful book that Jane Austen wrote!!!thank our God for give her the inspiration of the wonderful love story of Mr.Darcy an Elizabeth, 200 years and they still love each other!!!!!

  2. Pingback: Happy Anniversary to Pride & Prejudice | Austen Authors

  3. Chelsea K. says:

    Colin Firth as Darcy is what got me hooked on P&P. The first time I saw it I did not realize it was a 5 hour film and I wound up watching it until around 3 in the morning. I loved it! Since then I have read several variation novels as well as seen several movie versions.

  4. Sophia Rose says:

    LOL! My hubby groans whenever things ‘leap’ into my Costco cart. I do believe a whole box set of A&E historical dramas including P&P was one of those things. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the anniversary.

  5. Stephanie Carrico says:

    I love P&P and have enjoyed all the films and variations..wow 200 years and still going…

  6. Caddie Grafton says:

    Shannon, I really enjoyed reading this and you echo so many of my own feelings regarding the story’s place in my life (though I did fall for Mr Darcy first when reading the book; however, having watched a few screen adaptations, I didn’t fall for him visually until Colin took up the mantle in 95!!)

    I love that so many people have been able to become writers and that their love of this lady’s work has changed all our lives in some way or another.

    The greatest thing it (and the online Austen community in all it’s guises) has brought me is the most wonderful friendships.

  7. Veronica says:

    I like how you came to discover Pride and Prejudice at Costco. That just makes me giggle. I was a Sense and Sensibility girl long before I even discovered the joy that is Pride and Prejudice. Now I’m an all things Austen fan, and can’t get enough of all the variations and deviations. And can I just say how intrigued I am at the premise for Mr. Collin’s Last Supper! That is going on my reading list.

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