200th anniversary of Hampshire author Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to be celebrated this month (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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200th anniversary of Hampshire author Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to be celebrated this month
11:35am Thursday 17th January 2013 in Leisure
THIS month marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a novel written in Hampshire.
The legendary romance is the story of the sparky heroine Elizabeth Bennet, who catches the eye of wealthy Derbyshire gentleman Fitzwilliam Darcy. But the couple must overcome the titular obstacles before they can be together.
Its local connections are impressive, as not only was it originally written in Steventon, but the first published copy was delivered to Jane at her home at Chawton Cottage in Alton on January 27, 1813, one day in advance of the first advertisements appearing announcing the book’s publication.
Throughout 2013, Chawton Cottage, which is now Jane Austen’s House Museum, will lead worldwide celebrations commemorating this anniversary, beginning with an exhibition telling the story of the book’s publication.
The exhibition will include letters written by Jane to her sister Cassandra which highlight her feelings towards her book. On receipt of her copy Jane refers to Pride and Prejudice as “my own darling child” and described Elizabeth Bennet, her heroine, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.”
The museum will host a range of events throughout the anniversary year including a talk by Professor John Mullan, contemporary art and costume exhibitions, playreadings, children’s activities and creative writing workshops.
Jane Austen was born and grew up in the village of Steventon, where her father was rector of the parish, and she also wrote Northanger Abbey and Sense & Sensibility whilst living there. The church where her father, followed by her brother, James, preached and Jane worshipped still stands, although the rectory where they lived was demolished in 1824.
Jane, who also lived in Bath, Southampton and Winchester, was a frequent visitor to Basingstoke and attended dances at the Assembly Rooms at the Top of Town. Sadly, the building is no longer there but it was located where Barclays Bank currently stands. A commemorative plaque marks the connection.
The house at Chawton is where she spent the last eight years of her life and was where she did the majority of her mature writing.
All of the events commemorating Pride and Prejudice's birthday celebrations will be listed on the specially created website prideandprejudice200.org.uk which also includes events and activities from around the world as well as articles about Pride and Prejudice.
Louise West, the curator of the Jane Austen’s House Museum, said: “This is a very important anniversary for us and for lovers of Jane Austen’s work worldwide.
“The publication of Pride and Prejudice represented a significant time in Jane’s writing career and we will be celebrating and honouring this throughout 2013. In this bicentenary year we invite everyone to share in the excitement.”
Pride and Prejudice Facts and Figures
Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra on January 29 saying “I have got my own darling child from London”.
The original print run of Pride and Prejudice was probably no more than 1500 copies. Today Pride and Prejudice sells worldwide in excess of 110,000 copies a year in over 130 different editions.
It was voted the book the nation couldn’t live without in the 2007 World Book Day poll.
It is the most frequently adopted book in the British Library’s Adopt a Book Scheme.
The opening line of the novel is one of the most often quoted (and misquoted) in English literature – “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
In 1995 visitors to Jane Austen’s House Museum increased from 20000 to 55000 after the broadcast of the BBC television adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
Find out more online at jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk.