An 1833 engraving of a scene from Chapter 59 of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Public domain. www.wikipedia.orgJane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" fans on January 28 marked the yearlong celebration of the 200th year of publication of one fiction's most popular romantic couples: Mr. Darcy and Elizabet Bennet. The novel's wittiest lines, the silliest fools, the most lovable heroine and the handsomest estate were commemorated in a 12-hour read-a-thon, lectures, film screenings, pop-up theatrical performances of scenes from the novel, exhibitions of rare editions, essay contests, BBC's meticulous reconstruction of the Netherfield Ball, and Twitter posts of favorite lines from the book. The Economist chimed in and measured the frequency of mention of both well-loved characters. It found that associating Elizabeth with being the "world's sweetheart" gave her a steady mention in books and journals through the decades. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, dipped in popularity during the second-wave feminism, then bounced back in the 1990's, thanks to a BBC television series featuring Colin Firth in a wet shirt and Helen Fielding's "Bridget Jones's Diary." Although out of copyright and available for free on e-readers, it is estimated that Pride and Prejudice sells up to 50,000 copies each year in the UK.
Read more on the New York Times, New Yorker and The Economist.