Preface to Pride and Prejudice
From Miss Austen's Correspondence and the, Memoir we find that this novel was originally intended to have been called First Impressions. Mr. Austen-Leigh says that it was written between Oct. 1796 and Aug. 1797, revised at Chawton, and offered to Mr. Cadell who declined to see the manuscript.
The following editions appeared in Miss Austen's lifetime:--
- Pride and Prejudice: a Novel, in three volumes. By the author of "Sense and Sensibility." London: Printed for T. Egerton, Military Library, Whitehall. 1813.
- [Vol. I. printed by C. Rowarth, Bell-yard, Temple Bar; Vols. II. and III. by G. Sidney, Northumberland street, Strand.]
- Pride and Prejudice: a Novel, in three volumes. By the author of "Sense and Sensibility." Second Edition. London: Printed for T. Egerton, Military Library, Whitehall. 1815.
- [Vol. I. printed by C. Rowarth, Bell-yard, Temple Bar; Vols. II. and III. by G. Sidney, 1 Northumberland Street, Strand.]
- Pride and Prejudice: a Novel, in two volumes. By the author of "Sense and Sensibility," &c. Third edition. London: Printed for T. Egerton, Military Library, Whitehall. 1817. [Printed by C. Rowarth, Bell-yard, Temple Bar.]
The book has since been brought out by various publishers, and in several series. This edition is printed from C. In the few cases where errors have crept into the text, the reading of A. is followed, and this is indicated by the words being enclosed in square brackets.
In a letter to her sister Cassandra, dated Jan. 29, 1813, Miss Austen tells how "her own darling child" arrived, and was read aloud to a friend without its authorship being disclosed. "She was amused, poor soul. That she could not help, you know, with two such people to lead the way; but 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." On Feb. 4,1813, after noticing a misprint, she says: "There might as well be no suppers at Longbourn; but I suppose it was the remains of Mrs. Bennet's old Meryton habits."
She often recurs to her pleasure in her friends' affection for Elizabeth and Darcy. The following passage also illustrates the way in which she regarded her own characters. It occurs as usual in a letter to her sister. "My brother and I went to the exhibition in Spring Gardens. It is not thought a good collection, but I was very well pleased, particularly with a small portrait of Mrs. Bingley, excessively like her. I went in hopes of seeing one of her sister, but there was no Mrs. Darcy. Perhaps, however, I may find her in the great exhibition. . . .
"Mrs. Bingley is exactly herself--size, shape, face, features, and sweetness! There never was a greater likeness. She is dressed in a white gown with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I had always supposed--that green was a favourite colour with her. I daresay Mrs. D. will be in yellow."
Of the minor characters she told her family that "Kitty Bennet was satisfactorily married to a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary obtained nothing higher than one of her Uncle Philips's clerks, and was content to be considered a star in the society of Meryton."
Anonymous. Pride and Prejudice, The Rittenhouse Classics Edition. Macrae Smith Company, 1900.
This text was originally digitized by Catherine Dean for her "Jane Austen E-Texts, Etc." website, and is archived at Molland's with Ms. Dean's permission.