A novel by J. Austen, published 1813. It was originally a youthful work entitled ‘First Impressions’ and was refused by Cadell, a London publisher, in 1797.
Mr and Mrs Bennet live with their five daughters at Longbourn in Hertfordshire. In the absence of a male heir, the property is due to pass by entail to a cousin, William Collins, who has been presented with a living near Rosings, the Kentish seat of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Charles Bingley, a rich young bachelor, takes Netherfield, a house near Longbourn, bringing with him his two sisters and his friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, nephew of Lady Catherine. Bingley and Jane, the eldest Bennet girl, fall in love. Darcy, though attracted to the next sister, Elizabeth, offends her by his supercilious behaviour. The aversion is intensified when Darcy and Bingley's sisters, disgusted with the vulgarity of Mrs Bennet and her two youngest daughters, effectively separate Bingley from Jane.
Meanwhile the fatuous Mr Collins, urged to marry by Lady Catherine (for whom he shows the most grovelling and obsequious respect), proposes to Elizabeth. When firmly rejected he promptly transfers his affections to Charlotte Lucas, a friend of Elizabeth's who accepts him. Staying with the newly married couple in their parsonage, Elizabeth again encounters Darcy. Captivated by her in spite of himself, Darcy proposes to her in terms which do not conceal his wounded pride. Elizabeth indignantly rejects him.
On an expedition to the north of England with her uncle and aunt, Mr and Mrs Gardiner, Elizabeth visits Pemberley, Darcy's seat in Derbyshire, believing Darcy to be absent. However Darcy appears and welcomes the visitors. His manner, though grave, is now gentle and attentive. At this point news reaches Elizabeth that her youngest sister Lydia has eloped with the unprincipled Wickham (son of the late steward of the Darcy estate). With help from Darcy, the fugitives are traced, their marriage is arranged, and (again through Darcy) they are suitably provided for. Bingley and Jane are reunited and become engaged. In spite, and indeed in consequence, of the insolent intervention of Lady Catherine, Darcy and Elizabeth also become engaged.
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Jane Austen (1775—1817) novelist