“IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.”

One of the finest novel openings in the English language, Pride & Prejudice charms from the very first page. Thank you, Miss Austen, for your fine work in illustrating your life and times. When I first started reading Austen, it was for the romance. I stayed for how she depicts her society and culture in a way that goes beneath the trappings of the early 19th century English middle-class society and makes it universal. (Although it can be argued that what she was really doing was describing what it was like to be in middle school, 200 years before it was invented).

Note: for fans of the movies, these are costumes from the BBC miniseries Emma, which were on display at Chawton House a few years ago when I visited in 2010.

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