The Illustrations of Pride & PrejudiceThis lively, informal exhibition examines seven different illustrations of the famous letter scene in Pride & Prejudice. Curated by MA student Grace Prideaux, whilst on a placement at Jane Austen's House.
‘Will you do me the honour of reading that letter?’
Mr Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice
We all know the story of Pride & Prejudice – a tale involving misunderstanding, morality crises and of course, romance. It is a tale as old as time and one of those classic stories that has been retold and reimagined through books, films and TV adaptations for decades. It has inspired many new storylines and may even be said to have originated the classic transitional theme of two people who appear to despise one another at the beginning but end up living their happily ever after together.
But before the film and TV adaptations that we know and love today, there were illustrations! There have been many, many different editions of Pride & Prejudice published since its original publication in 1813, many of which feature illustrations depicting scenes in the novel. The original 1813 publication did not feature illustrations, however later editions use them to artistically interpret scenes involving some of our favourite character interactions.
There have been many delightful drawings of the characters in Pride & Prejudice, from the Bennet sisters to the Bingleys and, of course, our favourite scenes between Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet! The scenes depicting them both have all been illustrated slightly differently through time, so we thought it would be fun to go back in time and examine a range of different editions. We will also be sharing some information about the illustrators themselves – from which mediums they used to how they worked, and how they responded to drawing the illustrations.
For this task, we have chosen the ultimate pinnacle of the novel (spoiler warning!): the scene in which Mr Darcy hands Elizabeth a letter the morning after he has confessed his feelings towards her. This letter is a powerful story arc in the novel, unravelling Darcy’s perceived character of pride and arrogance to reveal him as a loving and protective brother to his sister Georgiana, and an honourable patron to Mr Wickham.
Click a link below to explore our virtual rooms full of illustrations!