Pride and Prejudice celebrates 200 years!

Can you believe it is 200 years since Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was first published? (January 28 is the official anniversary)It is a truth universally acknowledged that this book provokes reverence, swooning and undying declarations of love from many of its readers/fans for Mr Darcy its wonderful storyline, Mr Darcy adored characters and Mr Darcy timeless appeal.

Austen's characters remain contemporary and at times, painfully familiar - who hasn't had the misfortune to come across a "Mr Collins" in their travels? Or perhaps tousled with a haughty Miss Bingley once in a while?(No? Okay maybe that was just me.) And while Austen's plot lines may have altered in the finer details (Let's face it, $10,000 a year is NOT going to cut it for most women these days..) it has not in any way detracted from their universal relevance and popularity. Austen's mixture of pure wit coupled with subtly cutting social comment is delivered with a lightness of touch that delights with every read.

Newer takes on the story via literary and movie versions, together with spin offs such as Bridget Jones (love this) or Lost in Austen (yes, loved this too), Bride and Prejudice (Bollywood version, I haven't seen it) or the latest Lizzie Bennet Diaries (current youtube hit apparently) have only added to the appeal of the original. Countless sequels have been written, many of which are quite good too; but nothing can seem to better the original!

Who over tea and cakes, hasn't argued over who their favourite or most hated movie portrayals of Elizabeth, Jane or Mr Darcy are? While I loved the justly famous BBC's version of Pride and Prejudice, and let's face it,0 who didn't with the stupendous Mark Darcy Colin Firth portrayal of Mr Darcy!? I was initially disappointed in their choice of Lizzy as a brunette. To my mind Jane was always the dark one, and Lizzie blonde. However, I came to terms with this and came to love Jennifer Ehle as the humorous, clever and at times misguided Elizabeth Bennet.

I'm sorry but I'm going to be controversial here and say that the Keira Knightly version did not do it for me. Matthew McFaddyn (he'll always be Tom in Spooks to me) was a wooden Mr Darcy at best, and I had to force myself to watch him all of the way through. And much as I like Keira Knightly, she seemed to have majored on Lizzie's impetuous qualities rather than her intelligence to get her through the role. Hmm, your thoughts? 

On to happier matters. Here is a selection of my favourite Pride and Prejudice spin-off ephemera, and after two hundred years of providing swooning inspiration, there is a lot to choose from!

Lizzie at the Dance Earrings by PerspephonePlus
Darcy quote stamped on a vintage teaspoon by thepurediva
Clutch Purse by ChickLitDesigns 
And I love this poster - put together by two Italian illustrators who have their own shop/website called: Pemberley Pond - dedicated to all things Austen.
Okay it seems kind of wrong to be writing about Pride and Prejudice WITHOUT (re)stating that Mr Darcy is obviously fabulous. Yes he was mean and hopelessly arrogant in the beginning. I mean calling Lizzie "tolerable" has incensed generations of sympathetically-slighted women. But he did rally and became infinitely fabulous. Did I mention that already? Maybe I did..
Anyway, I know many women (yes, some even happily married) who would probably kill for one of these bags.
Mine's on order.


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