Arguably author Jane Austen’s most famous book, Pride and Prejudice is still held in popular regard by literature, film and TV fans across the world. Whilst Jane Austen was born and lived predominantly in Hampshire, her associations with the Peak District are largely written about when it comes to this particular novel.
Pride and Prejudice has never been out of print since the first locally-produced editions in 1813, and it has been adapted into a handful of very successful TV and film versions. The story has also been re-appropriated as the backdrop for some equally popular contemporary versions or ‘re-imaginings’. Thanks to the book’s evergreen popularity, there are several landmarks in the Peak District that have become pilgrimages and places of interest to fans of the adaptations. Inspiration for Pride and Prejudice is said to have come to Jane Austen during a trip to the area. According to literary scholars, the novel was partially composed in Bakewell at the Rutland Arms whilst holidaying in the area.
Perhaps the best loved adaptation of the novel was the 1990s BBC television series starring Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle and Alison Steadman. A total of 24 locations were used for the show but only a handful in the Peak District itself. The good news is that the famous lake scene, which has been recreated and lampooned by generations of filmmakers, was shot in the Peak District. Colin Firth’s film career went stratospheric following his participation in the series. The lake is situated at Lyme Park, a National Trust property, although quick dips are not recommended; it is not the lake directly in front of the house, but a deeper one further away. The exterior of Lyme Park house itself doubled as the fictional Pemberley, Darcy’s family seat, whilst the interiors were filmed at Sudbury Hall, also in the Peak District. The locations are all open to the public for a visit and to reminisce.
Joe Wright’s 2005 film adaptation starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen and Donald Sutherland made far better use of the Peak District locales than the Colin Firth version. On this occasion, Chatsworth House near Bakewell doubled as Pemberley and was used for exterior shots. (It was again used for PD James’ tribute to Pride and Prejudice for the BBC, Death Comes to Pemberley a few years ago). Wilton House in faraway Wiltshire was used for its interiors. For the famous scene where Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett enjoy their first embrace, you can journey out to the stunning Stanage Edge, at the eastern end of Dark Peak. It’s possible to stand on the rock and survey the entire area across the National Park. Another location is Haddon Hall, that doubled for the inn in the fictional Lambton. Like the BBC adaptation, much of the movie was filmed around the UK and outside the Peak District area.
An earlier film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice filmed in 1940, starring Sir Laurence Olivier as Mr Darcy, was filmed entirely at MGM studios in Los Angeles. The script was written by sci-fi author Aldous Huxley, who was most famous for Brave New World. The outbreak of the Second World War prevented location work in England from being included.
The story line for Pride and Prejudice inspired the first book and film in the Bridget Jones’ Diary series, and again the films starred Colin Firth as Darcy - this time as Mark Darcy. Further off the mainstream is the not-so-great horror genre-mashup, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was shot in Hampshire. The plot is largely intact with the same characters having to juggle their pent-up feelings with the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse. Another tribute was the Asian musical remix Bride and Prejudice from 2004, so if you fancy a Bollywood-style version, now you know where to look.
The pleasant market town of Bakewell is great for a day out, and is said to have been the inspiration for Lambton, one of the main fictional settings in the book. So, dust off your copy of Pride and Prejudice and stream your favourite TV/film adaptation in preparation for a great trip down memory lane, revisiting one of the best-loved British novels of all time - then book a holiday to complete the experience.
If you liked this blog and also love movies, read our guide about Peak District film locations.
We have some lovely holiday cottages throughout the Peak District, why not take a look at our collection to feel inspired?