‘Stolthed og Fordom’ or ‘Pride & Prejudice’

In honour of Mothering Sunday, we are turning the spotlight on an unusual and delightful object in our collection. This beautiful copy of 'Pride and Prejudice' – or rather 'Stolthed og Fordom' – is a handwritten Danish translation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel.

The book was created in 1904 by two Danish sisters who loved Pride & Prejudice and wanted to share it with their mother. Since she did not read English, the sisters translated it into their native language for her. It is thought that this was the first translation of Pride and Prejudice into Danish (the first published translation did not appear until 1928-30).

The sisters painstakingly wrote out their translation of the entire novel by hand, adding copies of Charles E. Brock’s illustrations for Pride & Prejudice (1895, Macmillan and Co). They bound it in seventeen paper booklets, tied these with ribbon and encased them in an embroidered linen covered hardback cover. It is a beautiful display of craftsmanship, showing the two sisters’ skill both in translation and presentation. It shows how Jane Austen’s appeal had spread nearly 100 years after she originally wrote her novels, and tells a wonderful story of the love and dedication of two women who wanted to share their favourite novel with their mother.

Today, we continue to be fascinated and intrigued by this remarkable object. We wanted to find out more about it, so we were delighted to be approached in 2019 by Hanne Danielson, a postgraduate student at the University of Copenhagen. Working from hundreds of photos taken by dedicated Museum volunteers, Hanne has transcribed and back-translated the book as part of her Literature in Translation MA thesis. The Jane Austen Society of Denmark are helping to check her back-translation, and she is working towards publication.

It is hard to think of our Danish sisters and their mother, without also thinking of Jane Austen and her mother, sitting down together as soon as they had received the first copy to read it to their neighbour Miss Benn:

‘Miss B. dined with us on the very day of the book’s coming, and in the evening we fairly set at it, and read half the first vol. to her’
Jane Austen to Cassandra Austen, 29 January 1813

So in honour of Jane and her mother’s first reading in Chawton, and of our two Danish sisters’ translation for their mother, we wanted to hear the Danish translation read aloud too…