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It all started with a title.
That's how Seth Grahame-Smith tells it, at least. Basically, his editor had an idea for a literary mash up: take a classic novel and add a modern-day monster like vampires or werewolves or—aha. What about Pride and Prejudice…and Zombies?
Now Grahame-Smith had a title, and he couldn't get it out of his head.
The idea is pretty self-explanatory. The 2009 book was one part Jane Austen and one part ultra-violent zombie mayhem. This time around, Elizabeth Bennet doesn't just get a bad first impression of Mr. Darcy when he wounds her pride by refusing to dance with her; now, she also vows to kill him just before she beheads a few zombies with her dagger.
Gowns and bonnets have never been so hardcore.
Oh—and then there was the cover.
They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but tell that to the internet. Bloggers and other folks online gradually heard that some people were working on a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and then they got a glimpse of the front cover. It featured a painting of woman with the bottom half of her face rotted off. She had been zombified.
The publisher, Quirk Books, moved up the release date and quintupled the print run. There were also rumors that Hollywood wanted to make a movie version of starring Natalie Portman as a zombie-slaying Elizabeth Bennet. Sales of the book would eventually land it on the New York Times Best Sellers List .
And this was all before anyone had ever read a page of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Once the book came out, even more people heard about it. Even more people read it. Even more people loved it. The book was a success in every way. Eventually, Hollywood would make their big-screen movie adaptation with lots of bonnets and gowns and blood and guts. Basically, by this point, if you're alive (or maybe even if you're not), you've heard of this book. Time to up your pop culture cred and feast your brain on this thing once and for all, are we right?
And to think—it all started with a title…and some zombies.
Okay, we get what you're thinking. Does the world really need more Jane Austen?
For shame! Bite your tongue! The answer to the question, "Do we need more Jane Austen in the world?" is always, "Yes! Absolutely! Now please pass the tea and crumpets while we re-read Mr. Darcy's first proposal scene for the 400th time."
But it's fair to ask if we really need this book—Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. After all, Jane Austen has been dead and buried for 200 years. Why do people insist on going back and reworking her stories over and over again and mining them for ideas?
Just look at all the adaptations of Pride and Prejudice that have come out in the last few years—Bridget Jones's Diary. You've Got Mail. Prom and Prejudice. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Bride and Prejudice. Even Twilight was loosely based on the romance between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.
Hey, we said loosely.
And now we need to add zombies to the ballrooms of Regency England?
It does make sense, though, in a weird way. Zombies are really having a moment. 28 Days Later. Resident Evil. World War Z. Plants vs. Zombies. Shaun of the Dead. And, of course, a little TV show called The Walking Dead. Why not mesh them with one of our all-time favorite writers…who just happens to be in the public domain? Genius.
Zombies have always made a statement—about consumerism, war, or death. And when they show up in Netherfield Park to kill a bunch of people, they're saying something about Jane Austen's world, too. In a way, the Bennet sisters are kind of like zombies—cursed to roam the countryside searching for husbands because their society won't let them use their brains to get a job or survive on their own.
A lot of the tension in Jane Austen's novels happens under the surface. People aren't allowed to air their real thoughts and hopes and fears, so instead you get a lot of very civilized people freaking out inside. We bet that after you read about all these zombies, you'll go back to the original with an even greater appreciation for what is at stake for Elizabeth and her sisters and all the other young ladies in 19th-century England.
Explore the Zombie Mayhem
Visit the publisher's website to get the low-down on all your Pride and Prejudice and Zombies-related news.
Dawn of the Dreadfuls
This prequel dives into life before Mr. Darcy and gives us the details on Elizabeth Bennet's training days.
Dreadfully Ever After
Can't get enough of the Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy and their zombie-fighting ways? This sequel explores what happens after the wedding bells chime.
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Jane Austen can just keep rolling over in her grave. Edward and Elinor get the movie-monster treatment with this fun adaptation, which adds sea monsters to the classic Regency romance.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
Bloodier and even more romantic than you could ever have imagined.
Los Angeles Times Digs the Zombies
They like it, they really like it in LA.
So Does The Daily Beast
Two thumbs up from these folks.
Entertainment Weekly Is Entertained
This book critic gives Pride and Prejudice and Zombies an A-. Not too shabby.
The New Yorker Ain't Havin' It
Uh-oh. This review calls the book, "Eighty-five per cent Austen, fifteen per cent a television writer named Seth Grahame-Smith, and one hundred per cent terrible." Eh, you can't win 'em all.
From the Zombie's Mouth
TIME does an interview with Seth Grahame-Smith.
Mr. Darcy's First Proposal
This scene from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies illustrates yet another universal truth: when you ask a highly trained warrior to marry you, never insult her honor. It will not go well.
Jane Austen Fight Club
This video isn't really about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but it still taps into the same themes. Jane Austen heroines + extreme violence is just funny.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Movie Soundtrack
Listen to the soundtrack from the blockbuster movie while you read to get the full Regency-era, zombie-slaying experience.
A Love Affair with Horror
Seth Grahame-Smith talks about how his love of horror movies helped him add the zombie apocalypse into Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Seth Grahame-Smith on NPR
The author talks about working with Jane Austen while adding zombies to her masterwork.
A Book Cover That Slays
The original cover to the book with an image based a painting by William Beechey.
On the Silver Screen
Sipping tea and slaying zombies. All in a day's work.
The Bennet Sisters Prepare for Battle
Swords out, girls. There are zombies afoot.
Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley
Checking out the fighting skills of their beloved ladies.
An image from the graphic novel.
My Zombie Valentine
The couple who slays together stays together. Swoon.