200 Years of Pride and Prejudice: Austen to Zombies at the National Library of Scotland

By Culture24 Reporter | 29 July 2013

Exhibition preview: 200 Years of Pride and Prejudice: from Austen to Zombies, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, until September 15 2013

A photo of the front of a book printed in black ink on yellow
Few copies of the original run of Jane Austen’s literary classic, printed 200 years ago, have survived in as immaculate a condition as the one on display at Edinburgh’s National Library, figuring as one of 18 particularly interesting editions drawn from the library’s collection.

There were more than 150 adaptations to choose from. They range from whimsical, nostalgic versions to “chick-lit” packaging, although most of the modern ones – informed by Colin Firth’s game-changing small screen portrayal of Mr Darcy in 1995 – focus on the handsome hero.

“We wanted to show how different people have responded to the book over its long lifetime,” says Helen Vincent, the Senior Rare Books Curator who has devised a display expressing some of the joy she feels on pondering a book of almost biblical reverence.

“There is a reason why a book published 200 years ago has remained so popular and has become so many people’s favourite novel.

“It’s brilliantly written, full of memorable characters, and very, very funny.”

Vincent argues the case for the heroine being the real star of the show.

“Jane Austen’s wit sparkles off every page,” she adds.

“Austen said of Elizabeth Bennet, ‘I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print’, and I completely agree with her.”

Three editions of the book, which the author called “my own darling child”, were published before her death in 1817.

Visitors are being invited to give their own insights by having their favourite scenes or quotations recorded. They can even predict what might have happened next.

  • Open 10am-8pm (5pm Saturday, 2pm-5pm Sunday). Admission free. Follow the library on Twitter @natlibscot.
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