Jan. 28 - Jane Austen published Pride and Prejudice 200 years ago. No one could have known at the time that two centuries later the novel would still occupy a solid place in popular culture, and be a confirmed money-spinner for publishers. Edward Baran reports.
Two centuries old, and still a global hit. Two hundred years ago, the public first got their hands on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The initial edition of the English author's novel appeared on January 28, 1813 At the Jane Austen House Museum in Hampshire in southern England, where the author once lived, her writing table and handwritten letters are on display alongside a first edition of the book. Museum curator Louise West says it's still influential. SOUNDBITE: Museum curator Louise West saying (English): "I don't think you'd say it was even her greatest novel, but it is certainly her most popular one. And it encompasses all that's great about the other novels in the groundbreaking work that Jane Austen was doing in transforming the novel of the eighteenth century into a novel very much like the ones we read today." PTC: Austen's works are now out of copyright which means that anyone can publish them. That, plus the fact that they can be published digitally for free, means it's impossible to accurately track sales and downloads. But all the indications are, this book's still doing very well. And it's still a money-spinner for publishers, says Helen Conford from Penguin Books, which prints many English classics. SOUNDBITE: Helen Conford, Penguin Books , saying (English): "She sells incredibly well. If you look at her inside Penguin Classics with George Orwell, Shakespeare, F. Scott-Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens, she's really number one." GRAPHIC Last year in the UK appoximately 50,000 copies of Pride and Prejudice were sold. While in the US it's estimated 135,000 copies were snapped up. That's compared to an initial print run of just 1,500 copies in 1813 CEO of the Publishers Association, Richard Mollet, says Austen's themes of marriage, money, class and love are universal. SOUNDBITE: Richard Mollett, Publisher's Association, saying (English): 'We can see in characters like the Bennets and like the Dashwoods, we can imagine their equivalents in the modern day and that's what makes them so engaging." The film and TV adaptations have been many and varied. Even Bollywood fell in love with the tale in 2004 with its adaptation Bride and Prejudice. This year Austenland will be released -- a comedy about a young women obsessed with the book. And that should secure the novel a new generation ,,,,