Author(s): Jane Austen
In a private letter Jane Austen once wrote: "Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor, which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony." Marrying well was the main route to financial security for women denied access to universities and the professions, a theme that runs throughout Austen's fiction. In Pride and Prejudice this thorny issue is writ large in the shape of the Bennet family, with its five unattached grown-up daughters. The arrival in the neighbourhood of two rich bachelors, Mr Bingley and his friend Mr Darcy, stirs Mrs Bennet to hope that wedding bells will soon be in the air. Jane, the eldest daughter, forms an early attachment to Mr Bingley, but her clever, spirited sister Elizabeth immediately takes against the aloof, arrogant Mr Darcy. Events conspire to keep Jane and Mr Bingley apart, while Darcy's pride and Lizzy's prejudice hamper the course of true love in the most popular of Austen's novels, which the author herself described as "my own darling child".