First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has consistently been Jane Austen's most popular novel. It portrays life in the genteel rural society of the day, and tells of the initial misunderstandings and later mutual enlightenment between Elizabeth Bennet (whose liveliness and quick wit have often attracted readers) and the haughty Darcy. The title Pride and Prejudice refers (among other things) to the ways in which Elizabeth and Darcy first view each other. The original version of the novel was written in 1796-1797 under the title First Impressions, and was probably in the form of an exchange of letters.
Jane Austen's own tongue-in-cheek opinion of her work, in a letter to her sister Cassandra immediately after its publication, was: "Upon the whole... I am well satisfied enough. The work is rather too light, and bright, and sparkling; it wants [i.e. needs] shade; it wants to be stretched out here and there with a long chapter of sense, if it could be had; if not, of solemn specious nonsense, about something unconnected with the story: an essay on writing, a critique on Walter Scott, or the history of Buonaparté, or anything that would form a contrast and bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness and general epigrammatism of the general style".