Thursday, January 3, 2013

Celebrating 200 Years of Pride & Prejudice

Greetings and Happy New Year! 

Time just flitted away like a bird on wing and 2013 arrived all fresh and new. With the new year comes a wonderful anniversary of a well-loved classic... Pride and Prejudice

  A watercolor believed to be of Jane Austen painted by her sister Cassandra. 

 How does one honor Jane Austen's grand achievement?   In my most humble opinion the best way to celebrate the classic is to not just reread the book, but take the entire month to savor it, take notes, and ponder every aspect of the book from the rich dialog to the English scenery.  Perhaps research the times and tribulations of 1813 and discover as much as I can about Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice.

Jane Austen began writing First Impressions, the original title for Pride and Prejudice in 1797.  The book was finally published in January of 1813, exactly 200 years ago this month.  A second printing came about in October.  The copyright was purchased by Richard Bentley in 1833 and the tome has never been out of print since then.  An amazing 20 million copies of the book have been purchased.

So what was going on in the world in 1813, the year Pride and Prejudice was published.  Let's take a look at Ackermann's Repository and find out what appeared in the January 1813 issue. 

Napoleon was certainly on the minds of the English writer who wrote the column Retrospect of Politics in the January 1813 issue.  His description of Napoleon Bonaparte... "one of the greatest monsters of the human race." 

 In a more genteel article an illustration of
a Cottage Ornee along with the floor plan reminds me of pining for a particular house or room in a modern home magazine. 


And of course there was the lovely Regency
fashion that many of us in the 21st century
are still enamored with.

"A robe pelisse of bright morone velvet, formed quite plain, simply meeting in front, with rounded collar; trimmed entirely round with spotted ermine..."

There were patterns for making needlework, embroidery, and lace, opinions, and fun observances of love, courting, and friendship.

You'd find poetry mostly about admiration of the fair sex, longing, passion, and love.

The market prices of such items as coffee, sugar, and corn could be found along with the stock prices.

Want to know what the weather was on January 1, 1813?  It's there in the Meteorlogical Journal.  The mean temperature was 35.5 degrees on a cloudy day with a southerly wind. (To find the temperature on a given day search in issues two months forward from the date...January meteorological information is found in the March 1813 issue)

It's wonderful to be able to view this slice of life in the time of Jane Austen.  It's a tangible connection and it helps to understand her books just a bit more.    

How will you celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice?  Read the book?  Watch the enchanting renditions of the book through movies and television?  Or will you follow her footsteps on a literary holiday?  Please share your ideas of how best to celebrate Jane's most loved book, Pride and Prejudice.



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