‘So “why do I like Miss Austen so very much”, and why do I think Pride and Prejudice perfect? Because it is, quite simply, magical. There is nothing “common-place” about Pride and Prejudice. It has a tightly woven, seductively intricate plot, which unfolds so delicately that the reader falls blindly into the traps of imperception set by the author, alongside that most perfect of imperfect heroines, Elizabeth Bennet. It has dialogue which sparkles and sings in the most extraordinary way, so that characters come alive in only a few words. It has a hero and heroine who fence and fight and fall in love, and who, in the process, bring out the best in each other. And it has a uniquely happy ending, in which Jane Austen takes pity on her smitten readers, and allows us to see past the church door to Elizabeth and Darcy’s future life at Pemberley. What more could a person want from a novel?’
Daisy Hay writing in Issue 24 of Slightly Foxed. This wood engraving of Austen’s hero and heroine, which was produced by Joan Hassall for the Folio Society edition of Pride and Prejudice and appeared in Issue 37 of Slightly Foxed, is today’s woodcut Wednesday.
About the contributor
Joan Hassall was born in Notting Hill in 1906. During the war she taught illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, replacing the tutor while he was away on war duties, and this Scottish connection influenced much of her work. She went on to design editions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and Burns’s poems, and illustrated Eric Linklater’s Sealskin Trousers. Hassall was widely recognised for her work; in 1972 she was elected the first lady Master of the Art Workers’ Guild, and was awarded the OBE in 1987.