Danish translation of Pride and Prejudice

Text by Isabel Snowden, former Collections Officer at Jane Austen's House

Jane Austen’s novels have been translated into numerous different languages as the author’s appeal has spread throughout the world. Translations of Austen’s work appeared as early as 1813 with extracts of Pride & Prejudice being published in a French periodical not long after it was published in English. It is a testament to Austen’s skill that her stories, which she described as ‘pictures of domestic life in country villages’, have transcended different cultures to be so popular all around the globe.

This is a handwritten translation of Pride & Prejudice in Danish, made in 1904. Although a Danish translation of Sense & Sensibility was published in 1855-56, a published translation of Pride & Prejudice did not appear until 1928-30. The book was made by two Danish sisters for their mother who wanted to read the book her daughters loved so much. There were no published Danish translations of Pride & Prejudice so, as their mother did not speak English, the sisters translated the novel into their native language for her.

The novel has been painstakingly transcribed by hand with painted illustrations copied from Charles E. Brock (Brock illustrated an edition of Pride & Prejudice for publishers Macmillan and Co. 1895). The book is made up of seventeen paper booklets bound with ribbon which are encased in a linen covered hardback cover. The cover is decorated in embroidery on the front and back.

This object is a beautiful display of craftsmanship, showing the two sisters’ skill both in translation and presentation. This book demonstrates how Jane Austen’s appeal had spread nearly 100 years after she originally wrote her novels. It also tells a wonderful story of the love and dedication of two women who wanted to share their favourite novel with their mother.