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The Thing About Austen Takeover: All About the Famous Peacock Edition of Pride and Prejudice

The Thing About Austen Takeover: All About the Famous Peacock Edition of Pride and Prejudice

To celebrate our upcoming collaboration with the The Thing About Austen podcast, we have invited them to take over our blog and celebrate the beautiful peacock edition of Pride and Prejudice


If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice, and especially if you are someone who likes to collect pretty editions of your favourite books, you are probably familiar with the famous ‘Peacock Edition’. This edition features what is arguably the most famous Pride and Prejudice cover and is one of the most coveted editions among collectors.

Published in 1894 by George Allen of London, the Peacock Edition was illustrated by Hugh Thomson, an artist who also illustrated editions of books by Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens. Born in 1860 in Ireland, Thomson had no formal training but moved to London in his early twenties to pursue a career as an illustrator. He went on to become one of the most popular and influential illustrators of the Victorian era.

The Peacock Edition is so-called because of its stunning binding which features a gilt peacock with fully fanned-out tail feathers on the cover, with a matching design on the spine. The peacock, long considered a symbol of both pride and wealth, is both an appropriate and creative cover design choice for Pride and Prejudice.

In a departure from previous editions of Pride and Prejudice which typically included minimal illustrations, Thomson’s edition features 160 pen-and-ink illustrations that are included throughout the text. The detailed (and often humorous) illustrations, combined with the lavish cover, made the Peacock Edition an immediate success.

Thomson went on to illustrate all six of Austen’s completed novels. His editions of Emma and Sense and Sensibility were published in 1896 by Macmillan and Co with Mansfield Park and a combined edition of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion both coming out in 1897. However, his 1894 edition of Pride and Prejudice remains the most popular. The Peacock Edition continues to be extremely collectible with copies in good condition going for thousands of pounds.

To celebrate this amazing edition we're also offering 10% off your order with the code THETHINGABOUTAUSTEN. If you are a Jane Austen fan, don't forget to tune in to The Thing About Austen podcast on the 3rd of June, and keep an eye on our socials for an exciting giveaway! 

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