Room 1: Hugh Thomson

1894 Hugh Thomson - published by George Allen
Front cover of Pride & Prejudice 'Peacock' edition, illustrated by Hugh Thomson 1894

Front cover of Pride & Prejudice ‘Peacock’ edition, illustrated by Hugh Thomson 1894

Firstly, we have the famous illustrations of Hugh Thomson, first published by George Allen in 1894. This edition of Pride & Prejudice is often referred to as the ‘Peacock’ edition, due to Thomson’s gorgeous illustration of a peacock on the front of the cover. Although this edition of the novel was not the first to have introduced illustrations to accompany the text, it is the first to have been fully illustrated throughout, showing all significant encounters in the storyline. This edition included 160 illustrations, not simply limited to the main character illustrations but also including decorative chapter headings which really encourage the reader’s imagination to run wild.

Illustration of Darcy meeting Elizabeth, by Hugh Thomson

Thomson’s interpretation of Mr Darcy giving Elizabeth Bennet his letter reflects the Victorian fashions of the time. Darcy’s ruffled cravat and coattails waving in the background, and Elizabeth’s parasol and feathered hat truly reflect the Victorian era the illustrations were drawn in. As well as this, Darcy’s action of tipping his hat enhances his position in polite society as a traditional gentleman.

Below are some illustration highlights from the rest of the publication!

Top left: Chapter 1 heading (p.1); top right: ‘She is tolerable’ (p.15); bottom left: ‘I hope Mr Bingley will like it’ (p.6); bottom right: ‘Protested that he never read novels’ (p.87)