Why Do We Read and Write ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Variations?

Why Do We Read and Write ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Variations?

It’s an interesting question. We have the original Pride and Prejudice with all of Jane Austen’s quirky humor and misunderstandings between Darcy and Elizabeth to enjoy, but why do we need more?

For me, the original is not enough. Jane wrote a lot about the angst Darcy and Elizabeth suffered through most of the book but very little about the recognition of their love, their marriage and afterwards. Perhaps, it is a universal truth that those who love Darcy and Elizabeth just want more.

Pride and Prejudice variations, fan fiction (JAFF), what ifs, vagaries, or whatevers may help satisfy that need to know more about our famous lovers. Sequels to the original give us a look at what might have been. Variations paint a little different picture of the characters we know so well, or do we? Twists on the original plot give us a taste of a new path taken and may even open up a completely different future than we ever imagined for our lovebirds. And as authors, we just can’t keep an idea to ourselves. We have to put it in a book.

For myself, I put thirteen twists on Jane Austen’s original plot when I wrote Darcy Chooses Part 1. Part 2 was almost 100% my plot, and I have three possible P&P series and three plots for standalone books plus a plot from my publisher as well. These are in addition to nine regency romance plots, one of which is a four part series. The P&P variations are enough to keep me busy for a long while even as the ideas just keep coming.

One would think that at some point we would experience a saturation of Pride and Prejudice and Elizabeth and Darcy’s adventures. Not so! One story or book leads to another and another, and we keep wanting more. The truth is we could read about Jane’s hero and heroine for years and not get tired of the variety of scenarios the many different authors dream up. And if they are well written, we love them almost as much as the original. The nice thing is that, by far, the majority of the Pride and Prejudice variations are well thought out with unique plots that keep our interest. I am a marathon reader. In other words, if I start a book that catches my attention, I don’t want to put it down until I reach the end. Most of the variations fit that bill quite nicely.

Again, for myself, I have read 300+ P&P’s and have enjoyed nearly all of them. I don’t get tired of them and have reread several of them more than once, others more than twice. Only a small number were either written so badly or contained graphic sex to the point I will not reread them or I didn’t finish them and deleted them from my library. As it is, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the completely new plots that many authors have written and look forward to future books and stories. The new variations that don’t stick to canon have been most enjoyable.

Just think, a simple preacher’s daughter, a spinster who never married (and that’s another story) but wrote a tale—about two individuals who fall in love—that has come down 200+ years to become one of the most popular love stories ever written. Jane Austen was quite a lady who’s flame died much too quickly, but who’s legacy is passed on through all the P&P authors who keep Darcy and Elizabeth alive for thousands of fans worldwide. Very few will ever be able to match that appeal.

Now, this post was just some of my thoughts about why I love reading and writing Pride and Prejudice variations. Why do you read and/or write and enjoy them?

Comment below for a chance at one of two eBook copies of my latest book, Darcy vs Bingley. This is a much lighter-hearted look at our dear couple as my Darcy is delighted at finding Elizabeth. Also, Bingley has a little more backbone in this variation as well. Enjoy!  The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Thursday, May 18.

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Selene L. Garrou
Selene L. Garrou
September 9, 2021 10:16 PM

I just recently wrote my very first Pride and Prejudice variation, To Wake the Sleeping Dragon and I am delighted to know that there is someone out there who feels exactly as I do. I have read hundreds of variations and will continue to do so, it is a amazing how many plots and situations those same series of characters can get themselves into. LOL! I love all of Jane Austen’s work, and on a good snowy evening can often be found with a throw, a cup of tea and the original Pride and Prejudice in my lap. I said all that to say, as long as you keep writing, I will keep reading all of your books. I do so hope you will take the time to red mine as will, I would love to know you thoughts.

Selene L. Garrou

May 20, 2019 12:07 PM

I have read many p&p variation and enjoyed them greatly, probably a lil obsessed with it just love reading it, gives a lightness to my heart reading it. My question is do the writers need permission to write a p & p variation. I am considering writing one and I was wondering who do I need permission from to write a variation for p&p.

Thank you

Regina Jeffers
May 21, 2019 1:25 PM
Reply to  Latchmie

Pride and Prejudice is in the public domain. Permission to use the characters and a few lines from the text is NOT required. You cannot, however, republish Pride and Prejudice and claim it as your own. Some people have attempted this, so I am just adding it as a caution. Generally, a copyright is “life” + 75 years, meaning you must wait 75 years after an author’s death to use his/her material. “Life” is 54 years (the first copyright is 27 years and can be renewed once). One must also keep in mind some families of authors, artists, and the like, inherit the copyrights, and a person still cannot use the material, even after the “life” + 75 years is met, for the family refuses its use.

Elin Eriksen
June 25, 2017 4:28 PM

A little over a year ago I saw the last half of the 2005 movie… I read the book in Norwegian. Thinking the book was to light and airy, I read it in its original language. Searching for P&P I got a lot of hits. After reading the original, I read Mr Darcy’s diary by Amanda Grange then I read Sharon Lathan ‘ s Darcy saga five times in a row… Now after seeing the movie 50+ times the BBC series 30+ and 400+ variations and what if’s books later I am admitting it more an obsession than a hobby.
After reading a lot, I find my mind wandering and new ideas of my own robs me of my ability to focus on what I am reading. It seems the only cure is to write them down…

Sheila L. Majczan
Sheila L. Majczan
May 26, 2017 4:26 PM

I own 407 JAFF books either on my kindle or in paperback or hardcover. But I also have a Kindle Unlimited subscription so have read a lot of JAFF books offered through that resource and then there are the 83 plus unpublished stories I have read on various sites on the Internet. Those latter ones are just the ones I have kept track of. I mostly like P&P variations but am willing to read other novels’ variations.

Gianna Thomas
May 27, 2017 4:37 PM

I know what you mean, Sheila. I also have 400+ P&P’s and that’s just the Kindle copies. Unfortunately, I wound up with some that I wish hadn’t been purchased, so I’m making more use of KU first to screen the newer books before purchasing. I also write and read Regency romance other than the P&P’s. Only problem, I have to sleep occasionally when I’d rather read or write. 🙂

Sheila L. Majczan
Sheila L. Majczan
May 27, 2017 5:29 PM
Reply to  Gianna Thomas

In the past I devoured 100’s of Historical Romance novels and had to finally get rid of them when we downsized in a move. I rarely read that genre any more as JAFF has taken over my reading habits. I have read the Outlander Series and some North and South variations but P&P in my main focus.

Gianna Thomas
May 27, 2017 6:24 PM

I’m glad most of my P&P’s are e-books because I’m simplifying my life right now so most downsizing will be with other stuff rather than my P&P’s. I hate getting rid of physical books.

May 17, 2017 5:30 PM

It’s interesting to see how things can become so different, when there is a small change at a point of departure. It’s also enjoyable seeing all the different points of departure. Fortunately, they all end the same, which we must have. (Although, I have read a few that ended differently, and they were well written and interesting too. Didn’t like ’em, but enjoyed the reading.)

Gianna Thomas
May 17, 2017 7:54 PM
Reply to  Ginna

I know what you mean, Ginna. I want that HEA for Darcy and Elizabeth no matter how they get there, and I want them together. I’ve read a couple of well-written stories also where she married someone else. Not nearly as satisfying.

J. W. Garrett
J. W. Garrett
May 16, 2017 10:46 PM

I read P&P every year… I can’t help myself. I first heard of doing such a thing when I saw the movie… “You’ve Got Mail” where the female lead said she read it every year. I was so happy to hear that… and from that day on… have done the same. Then I found my first JAFF, I had never heard of such a thing. I’ve mentioned it before on this site, it was by Regina Jeffers, Darcy’s Passions. I was on a roll then and read everything I could get my hands on. I’ve read hundreds of variations, shorts, prequels, sequels, variations, re-imagining, alternate universe, paranormal, time-travel, time-swap, body-swap, western. modern, and every kind of redo that authors can come up with. I then started writing reviews.

I love it because we get to see our favorite characters in all manner of situations. We know how it will end. We want that and are willing to go through the various depths of hell to get there with our characters because in the end… Darcy will always get his Elizabeth. We have to have the conclusion, that HEA or else it just does not work. My hat goes off to all the authors that work so hard to provide us with those stories. I admire you and applaud you for your hard work and dedication to the genre. I definitely want a chance at the Darcy vs Bingley give-a-way. Thank you for the generous gift offer. Blessings on the launch of your next book.

Gianna Thomas
May 17, 2017 12:06 AM
Reply to  J. W. Garrett

Now, that’s a thought, J.W. I did reread ‘Pride and Prejudice’ before I started writing my own variations, but I like the idea of reading it again each year. I’m sure there are a lot of places and quotes in the book that didn’t stick even though a lot did.

And I’m like you. After that first book, I bought everything I could lay my hands on. I spent over $2…, you don’t really want to know what I spent those first two years. 🙂 Since then, I’ve made use of Kindle Unlimited and been more discerning in my choices since I’m not made of money. And one of the authors said that 68 new books came out last month. Oh, my aching pocketbook. hehehe!

And, yes, I always give my Elizabeth and Darcy their HEA because you’re right. If they don’t get it, that variation didn’t work for me.

Thank you so much for your nice comments. They and all the other comments for this post are greatly appreciated.

And…you are entered in the drawing. 🙂

Tamara Nicole Canty
May 16, 2017 1:37 PM

I actually wrote a screenplay where the Bennets are an affluent black-American family! ?

Gianna Thomas
May 16, 2017 9:35 PM

Good for you, Tamara. You’ve taken a step that many people never do. Was it for your own satisfaction or do you plan to market it? If so, I wish you well.

May 16, 2017 12:42 AM

Thank you for the post! I whole-heartedly agree. I buy a different copy of P&P every year to read because I just can’t get enough. I’m also obsessed with all the variations and retellings because this love story is timeless and amazing in any setting and time period. I’ll take the story of Elizabeth and Darcy however I can get it <3 #janeaustenismyhomegirl

Gianna Thomas
May 16, 2017 2:01 AM
Reply to  Krystyna

You’re welcome, Krystyna. I don’t buy one P&P every year, but I do have seven different copies. And, me too as far as Darcy and Elizabeth, ‘however I can get the story.’ Love the variations. 🙂

Carole in Canada
Carole in Canada
May 15, 2017 4:55 PM

Why do I read P&P variations, sequels, etc.? I just don’t want the story to end. I want to spend time with the greatest literary characters ever created (IMO) for their story never grows old. There is always a fresh new twist or turn that you wonderful authors come up with to feed our never ending addiction. May the muse always be with you!

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 5:06 PM

I don’t want it to end either, Carole. I love these characters also especially Darcy and Elizabeth. There’s nothing like a good love story to engage the heart and the emotions. And, thank you. I hope the muse stays with me as well. 🙂

May 15, 2017 4:47 PM

The same reason Shakespeare is rewritten, copied, updated, etc. I think Jane Austen fan fiction is so popular because her experience was so limited and she left so few works that we just want more. Darcy vs Bingley was great fun. Keep writing so we can keep reading!

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 5:02 PM
Reply to  AnitaB

I agree, Anita. She was an excellent writer and had a lot of insight into people’s personalities. It would have been wonderful if she had had the opportunity to write more.

I’m delighted that you enjoyed ‘Darcy vs Bingley.’ It was also great fun to write. And I’ll do my best to keep them coming. 🙂

Mary Campbell
Mary Campbell
May 15, 2017 12:14 PM

Darcy and Elizabeth! They are like a craving that is never sated. As soon as I finish one book, I start another. I like to read the authors different takes on sequels and variations. I, also, am addicted. Keep writing, everyone!

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 3:07 PM
Reply to  Mary Campbell

You’re right, Mary. We can’t get enough of Darcy and Elizabeth. I love the different takes as well and am amazed at some of the variations. Will endeavor to keep writing and doing my part. Thanks for commenting.

May 15, 2017 11:31 AM

I love to see what different people can come up with when we all have the same starting material. One of my favorite games to play with my children is to start a story with a couple of characters and set it up for 1-2 minutes, get to a pivotal point, and pass it off to one of my kids. Then we just continue around for 20 minutes or so until we decide to end it. P&P variations are a lot like this. There is no end to what the human imagination can come up with, and it is a wondrous thing for me. Thanks to all the authors! I read my first P&P variation/POV variation probably 10 or more years ago, but I didn’t discover online JAFF until 2013 or so. I’ve been an addict ever since. For me, good JAFF has to have some fundamental similarities with the original, whether that is keeping the characters in character or using the events of the original in a new way. I have a list of well over 30 plot devices I would like the play with, but with five kids, I never seem to have enough time, because the spare time I have usually ends up being used to read….Maybe someday I’ll get them out there!

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 3:04 PM
Reply to  ALW

Oh, my goodness. You’re way ahead of many of us in following JAFF. Love the story game you play with your children. And, yes, imagination is a wondrous thing. But time…time is the problem. Will I read or write today…or mow the lawn…..:)

Jennifer Redlarczyk
Jennifer Redlarczyk
May 15, 2017 10:23 AM

Let’s face it. We’re all addicts and can never get enough. Thanks so much for your post.

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 2:56 PM

You’re welcome, Jennifer. We definitely can’t get enough especially of Darcy and Elizabeth.

May 15, 2017 9:22 AM

Though I do read Darcy and Lizzy variations I much prefer to read stories about the other characters in P&P, and characters from her other books. I read them as a contrast to my favourite genre – historical mysteries.

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 3:16 PM
Reply to  Vesper

I’ve enjoyed some historical mysteries in the past as well. Have you read Josephine Tey’s ‘Daughter of Time’ about Richard III voted best mystery ever written? I think you’ll find it fascinating. Thank you for commenting.

May 15, 2017 9:04 AM

I read JAFF for exactly the same reasons as you do, Gianna. And I am a marathon reader as well, never have enough of D&E. The original has so many sub-plots that just beg to be followed, or so many possibilities for some events to go differently, that we JAFF addicts can’t resist following them. Amd luckily JAFF writers’ imagination is limitless. 🙂
Thanks for the giveaway, Gianna. I would love to read this story, I love scheming Caroline, who fails to catch Darcy. 🙂

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 2:54 PM
Reply to  KateB

You’re welcome, Kate. And, yes, Caroline is quite the schemer in this story. As a marathon reader, it’s hard for me to finish one book and not start another immediately. I do love reading about our dear couple. And I appreciate the other writers’ imaginations as well. May the books keep coming. 🙂

May 15, 2017 8:37 AM

Why do I read them? For the same reason as you, Gianna. I just want to know more about our favorite couple. I do like the variations and totally new plots. I have thoroughly enjoyed your books. Thank you for the giveaway.

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 2:47 PM
Reply to  evamedmonds

You’re welcome, Eva. I’m delighted you enjoy my books. Readers, I believe, just love seeing Darcy and Elizabeth in different scenarios and seeing how they will react, especially with each other. May there be many more books for everyone to enjoy. 🙂

May 15, 2017 8:34 AM

For me I love to read variations, fanfic, etc. because I love the characters and want more time with them. In particular, I like variations as I have always loved the concept of how one small change can lead to an entirely different path in life. It shows how important our decisions really are and I can definitely see that in my own life and sometimes wonder about roads not taken.

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 2:42 PM
Reply to  darcybennett

Me too. I love time spent with them. Isn’t it amazing that making a different choice can completely change the outcome. In fact, life is all about choices, as you mentioned, and how important it is to make the best ones we can. Thank you for your nice comment.

May 15, 2017 7:58 AM

I think it’s amazing how many interpretations there are of the same novel. I would’ve thought the potential paths would have been exhausted by now, but not so! (I’m even working on one of my own!) Mostly, I can’t get enough of these variations because it’s a way for me to never have to say goodbye to my favorite characters. And no matter how many times I read the original, it’s like I’m reading it for the first time. Thanks for the giveaway!

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 2:35 PM
Reply to  Anna

You’re welcome, Anna. I love your thought that the many variations make it so we don’t have to say goodbye to Austen’s wonderful characters. And I wish you well with your book. Thank you for commenting.

May 15, 2017 2:41 AM

Like Ria, I can remember being terribly disappointed when I realised how tragically small a literary legacy Jane Austen had left due to her leaving us at such a young age. For quite a number of years, I had to content myself with re-reading the six major novels. Then I discovered the incomplete works of The Watsons and Sanditon, and the little gem that is Lady Susan. Later still, I found the Juvenilia and her letters. Yet, when I look at the line up of all of Austen’s original writing on my bookshelf, it’s still such a small section compared with my collections of my favourite authors outside of the JAFF genre.

Like Glynis, I was a relatively late discoverer of JAFF – in early 2014. Now I can’t imagine my reading life without it! I’m not quite sure why it is that the story of Darcy and Elizabeth draws us in so much. Admittedly, who wouldn’t want a rich, handsome gentleman who admits he’s wrong and admits to defects in his behaviour, then does his best to amend all this in order to try to garner the affections of the woman he loves. Then there’s the lively, vivacious woman who refuses to bow down to society’s expectations and marry for convenience rather than love, even refusing the aforesaid gentleman despite his money and property.

That’s the simple explanation, of course. There’s something more though, which I find difficult to put into words. I’ve just listened to Rosamund Pike’s narration of P&P and hearing the words spoken aloud, I realised there’s something just so sublime about Austen’s prose and dialogue in this book especially. Maybe that’s why P&P is my favourite, though Persuasion comes a close second.

Maybe Jane Austen’s own use of coincidence in P&P (Wickham turning up in Meryton, Mr Collins being Darcy’s aunt’s vicar, the Gardiners taking Elizabeth to Pemberley, Darcy arriving there early, to name but a few) lends itself more to variations and vagaries than the other works. Most of the JAFF I’ve read that’s based on the other novels has been more along the lines of alternative POVs, different era settings and sequels, rather than variations that lead to the same HEA as the original.

Whatever the reason, now that I’ve discovered this genre of fiction, my bookshelves are becoming inadequate for the growing number of physical books I own and my poor old Kindle is groaning at the seams! I hope that writers like yourself, Gianna, continue to write JAFF based on any or all of Jane Austen’s works for as long as we’re all here to read it.

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 4:38 AM
Reply to  Anji

Appreciate your thoughts, Anji. I haven’t really gotten into the other JAFF writings, but you may be correct that P&P lends itself more to variations than Austen’s other works. I am continually surprised at the different plots that have shown up particularly the last couple of years. Very different but true to the characters and pulling in different elements of the original ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ There’s some excellent variations out there. And, yes, my Kindle for PC is groaning also with 1800 e-books. That doesn’t include the paperbacks and hardcover books in my house. Sigh! And a goodly number of them are P&P what-ifs, vagaries, variations, etc.

I first was introduced to P&P variations when I bought a couple of Abigail Reynolds books in late 2012. By late 2013, I was beginning to write my own. Definitely not Pulitzer Prize Winning to start out with. 🙂 I’ve had to learn a lot along the way.

And, yes, our love of JAFF, and especially the P&P variations is hard to explain. They are special, but there’s also something about them that cause Darcy and Elizabeth’s adventures and courtship to wrap themselves around our hearts and won’t let go. I’ll try to do my part and hope other authors will do so as well for many years to come. <3

May 15, 2017 1:43 AM

I too love reading stories about Darcy and Elizabeth, to the exclusion of all others. I only discovered it in 2014 but have made up foe it since then!
I have many, many different books about them most of which I have read more than once and some that I re read constantly. The thing that annoys me most is that some people who have obviously never read P&P write utter drivel with the character names Darcy and Elizabeth (usually less than 50 pages) and call it a P&P variation!
I now only buy books recommended on the blogs I follow or by authors I know I like.
Speaking of which, please don’t enter me in the giveaway as I already have Darcy vs Bingley – such a funny book – loved it! (another on my re read list!) I look forward to your next D&E story. Thanks for this post ?

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 4:12 AM
Reply to  Glynis

I’m like you, Glynis. P&P variations almost to the exclusion of anything else except other Regency romance. And I agree, that just writing a book and naming the characters Darcy and Elizabeth doesn’t work for me either. We do have to be careful in the books we choose.

And I’m delighted that you enjoyed ‘Darcy vs Bingley.’ I want people to read it and laugh and love along with our dear couple. It was a fun project.

May 15, 2017 1:31 AM

One can never get enough Austen. I vividly remember the disappointment I felt when I learned that there weren’t more Austen novels to read. There should have been many more. She died too young.

Gianna Thomas
May 15, 2017 4:05 AM
Reply to  Ria

Yes, she did, Ria. To the disappointment of many readers.

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