The Joy of Hugh Thomson’s Peacock Pride and Prejudice

by Brenda S. Cox

“Elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself”–Pride and Prejudice

At a JASNA Symposium last fall, I was privileged to see early editions of some of Jane Austen’s works at Emory University’s Rose Library. I was enchanted by the “Peacock Austen.” This version of Pride and Prejudice was published in 1894. I laughed at the illustrations by Hugh Thomson; I never knew they were so funny!

The other copies of Jane Austen I currently own are either digital or academic versions. However, when I saw that I could get a reproduction of the “Peacock Austen,” I had to buy it.

What a joy reading this book was! The text, of course, delights my soul as always, but the pictures add even more fun. Thomson obviously understood the story very well, as his illustrations show.

My reproduction of this book was published by Logic and Light in 2013. It says, “The text of this work, as well as the illustrations, are in the public domain.” So I have scanned some of my favorites to share with you. I hope you will enjoy them. I recommend the whole book!

The cover of Pride and Prejudice with illustrations by Hugh Thomson, 1894, Revived. A proud peacock admires his own lovely feathers.


Bennets back to back
At the end of chapter 1, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet sit back-to-back. Mr. Bennet enjoys his book, while Mrs. Bennet talks at him.


Sir William knighted
In the heading for this chapter, Sir William Lucas is knighted by the king; the highlight of Sir William’s life! “The distinction had perhaps been felt too strongly.”


Daughters for Sale
My favorite. Mr. Collins looks over the Bennet girls, while their mother arranges them carefully. Jane, in the middle, is the only one who is “not for sale.” Mary reads a book. The others await Mr. Collins’s decision. Chapter 15 of Hugh Thomson’s Pride and Prejudice.


Collins capital
A capital letter with its own little picture begins each chapter. Here in chapter 15, proud Mr. Collins has a bloated head, going up in a balloon.


Wickham Persecuted cropped
Chapter 17, where Elizabeth tells Jane of Wickham’s complaint, begins with this capital letter. Poor, persecuted Mr. Wickham!


Bingley Tug of War
Little cupids pull one direction with Mr. Bingley. He wants to marry Jane Bennet. Mr. Darcy and Bingley’s two sisters pull him in the opposite direction.


Elizabeth Weighs Option
Elizabeth Bennet reads Darcy’s letter and weighs her options. Who is telling the truth, Darcy or Wickham?


In later weeks I’ll share a few more delights from Pride and Prejudice, The Peacock Edition, Revived. Hugh Thomson carefully researched his illustrations, and we’ll see some of what he shows about Austen’s times. I highly recommend you get the book, though, and enjoy the illustrations as you read the beloved story.

I can’t say that with Jane Austen, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Without her words, these pictures wouldn’t mean much. But, the right pictures do add extra joy to her stories! And they helped me slow down and relish each page. Wishing you much joy today, in what you see, what you hear, and what you read.

Later posts

Covering Screens

Box Pews in Church

“You mean to frighten me, Mr. Darcy, by coming in all this state to hear me? I will not be alarmed though your sister does play so well. There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”

“I shall not say you are mistaken,” he replied, “because you could not really believe me to entertain any design of alarming you; and I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance long enough to know that you find great enjoyment in occasionally professing opinions which in fact are not your own.”

Elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself, and said to Colonel Fitzwilliam, “Your cousin will give you a very pretty notion of me, and teach you not to believe a word I say. I am particularly unlucky in meeting with a person so able to expose my real character, in a part of the world where I had hoped to pass myself off with some degree of credit. Indeed, Mr. Darcy, it is very ungenerous in you to mention all that you knew to my disadvantage in Hertfordshire—and, give me leave to say, very impolitic too—for it is provoking me to retaliate, and such things may come out as will shock your relations to hear.”




7 thoughts on “The Joy of Hugh Thomson’s Peacock Pride and Prejudice

  1. Hugh Thomson’s illustrations of *Pride and Prejudice *accentuate Jane Austen’s wit. A delightful edition of the classic work.

    On Wed, Jul 22, 2020 at 10:45 PM Faith, Science, Joy, … and Jane Austen! wrote:

    > Brenda S Cox posted: “by Brenda S. Cox “Elizabeth laughed heartily at this > picture of herself”–Pride and Prejudice At a JASNA Symposium last fall, I > was privileged to see early editions of some of Jane Austen’s works at > Emory University’s Rose Library. I was enchanted by th” >


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