Pride and Prejudice is an 1813 romantic novel of manners written by Jane Austen. The novel follows the character development of Elizabeth Bennet, the dynamic protagonist of the book, who learns about the repercussions of hasty judgments and eventually comes to appreciate the difference between superficial goodness and actual goodness. A classic piece filled with comedy, its humour lies in its honest depiction of manners, education, marriage and money during the Regency era in Great Britain.
Mr Bennet of Longbourn estate has five daughters, but because his property is entailed it can only be passed from male heir to male heir. Since his wife also lacks an inheritance, Mr Bennet's family will be destitute upon his death. Thus it is imperative that at least one of the girls marry well to support the others, which is a motivation that drives the plot. Jane Austen's opening line--"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife"—is a sentence filled with irony and sets the tone for the book. The novel revolves around the importance of marrying for love, not for money or social prestige, despite the communal pressure to make a good (i.e., wealthy) match.
Pride and Prejudice has consistently appeared near the top of lists of "most-loved books" among literary scholars and the reading public. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature with over 20 million copies sold, and has inspired many derivatives that abound in modern literature. For more than a century, amateur and professional dramatic adaptations, reprints, unofficial sequels, films, and TV versions of Pride and Prejudice have portrayed the memorable characters and themes of the novel, reaching mass audiences. The 2005 film Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, is the most recent film adaptation that closely represents the book, with the 2016 action, comedy, and horror spin-off Pride and Prejudice and Zombies being the most recent Hollywood film adaptation.