Jane Austen

First Impressions was the original title to which 1813 novel?

And the answer: Pride and Prejudice.

Photo courtesy: BBC. 

Written by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice is considered a classic of English literature. Set in rural England, the story follows a family of five very different sisters and their love lives.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a masterful work in its own right. While it is considered a literary classic today, young Austen was not so lucky in her lifetime. As a natural born writer and avid reader, Austen began to create from a very young age. Her family, literary in their own ways, encouraged her authorship -- in fact, her father thought so highly of her work that he reached out to a publisher inquiring about interest in Austen’s early version of Pride and Prejudice, then known as First Impressions. However, the hurdles for the publishing of her book were substantial. The author received many rejections to publish her work, even relinquishing copyright of Northanger Abbey for a measly £10 (only for the publisher to do nothing with the manuscript).

Austen’s breakthrough moment came with the hesitant publishing of her novel Sense and Sensibility. Luckily for Austen, readers enjoyed the novel, selling well enough for the young author to be free of any debts of commission to her publisher. The success inspired Austen to continue to push Pride and Prejudice, ultimately leading her to sell the copyright to her manuscript to a publisher for £110. As the book took off in popularity, sales skyrocketed. By the year’s end, Pride and Prejudice had sold out. Unfortunately for Austen, however, the success of the novel hardly benefited her monetarily -- her publisher owned the rights. But, as her career and name recognition grew (the latter growing a bit slower, as Austen’s name did not appear on any of her published works in her lifetime), Austen became determined, stating:

“The truth is that the Secret has spread so far as to be scarcely the Shadow of a secret now — & that I believe whenever the 3d appears, I shall not even attempt to tell Lies about it. – I shall rather try to make all the Money than all the Mystery I can of it.”

Today, Austen is one of the greatest authors of the late 18th and 19th century. Learn more about her style and legacy below.


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