Pride and Prejudice Rejected by Modern Publishers

The organizer of the Jane Austen Festival recently sent thinly disguised copies of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice to 18 different publishers in the form of a “book proposal” called First Impressions. The phony proposal even began with Austen’s famous first sentence: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Seventeen publishers rejected the manuscript. “Thank you for your recent letter and chapters from your book ‘First Impressions’. It seems like a really original and interesting read,” wrote Penguin.

Only one publisher out of the eighteen actually recognized the book.

“Thank-you for sending us the first two chapters of ‘First Impressions’; my first impression on reading these were ones of disbelief and mild annoyance, along, of course, with a moment’s laughter,” wrote back Alex Bowler of Jonathan Cape. “I suggest you reach for your copy of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which I’d guess lives in close proximity to your typewriter, and make sure that your opening pages don’t too closely mimic that book’s opening.”

I got a kick out of Dave Zimmerman’s take on Pride & Prejudice over at IVP’s Behind the Books blog.

I am not deriding Pride & Prejudice as a literary work. Trust me, I know whereof I speak: I have dutifully sat through two viewings of the ten-episode production starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I own (by proxy) that production, which means that before I die I’ll probably sit through it again and, let’s face it, again. I also own (by proxy) the 2005 Keira Knightly film which communicates very effectively in two hours what took the Colin Firth version six hours; I think they trimmed about four hours of dancing and kept the story intact.

I have been there too, Dave. God bless you, bro’. I feel your pain.

HT: Thanks to Marcus Goodyear at Goodword Editing for tipping me off to the story and Dave’s article.


  1. Ray, thanks for the hat tip. I look forward to exploring your blog more.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Mark. I have been enjoying your writing both at and

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