What If Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy Were a Teenage Steampunk Vampire Platypus?
Our favorite "Pride and Prejudice" variations imagine Darcy as a pirate, dragon tamer, AI, and more
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
You may remember Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the 2009 bestseller that reimagined Jane Austen’s classic with more of the living dead. It made a huge splash, getting written up in The New Yorker and eventually being developed as a film. People really responded to a novel that dared to ask, “what if Pride and Prejudice, but with zombies?”
What you might not know (we didn’t!) is that Jane Austen fans had a lot more questions to ask. What if Pride and Prejudice, but detectives? What if Pride and Prejudice, but time-traveling teens? What if Mr. Darcy were a vampire? An artificial intelligence? A were-platypus?
A list on Goodreads, “Inspired by Pride and Prejudice,” is actively compiling a list of published novels that seem to suggest that P+P can be adapted to any genre, any history, any species, and it still works. Can it be a campus novel? Sure. A dystopian thriller? You bet. What about pugs—can Pride and Prejudice handle pugs? Honestly, I’m surprised you’re even asking.
The list specifies that the books “don’t have to be great or even good, they only have to be based on, variations of, or continuations of Pride and Prejudice,” but the list itself is good, even great for its sheer volume alone. There are currently 436 books on this list. What a time to be alive.
We’ve compiled some of our favorites here.
Is he a pirate or is he just heartbroken? After Elizabeth turns Darcy down, he escapes to London where he turns to the drink and hangs out by the docks. He’s mistaken for a pirate and embarks on an adventure that will turn him into the man Lizzie wanted him to be all along.
Fifteen-year old Callie buys herself a pair of red Prada heels and is pumped to finally be a grown-up woman. But then she falls and hits her head and, strangely enough, lands back in the year 1815. She meets Emily, who mistakes her for a long-lost cousin, and takes her in. There are “dire engagements” and an arrogant cousin named Alex and a kiss to get before the clock strikes and… something happens? Maybe her Pradas turn into a pumpkin?
A sequel of sorts, in which Caroline Bingley is marrying an American and might get murdered and Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy are detectives.
Regency England is a private high school. Lizzie is there on scholarship and her BFF is named Jane. Jane wants Chris Bingley, just back from a semester abroad, to take her to the dance. His friend Darcy is snobbish and uninterested in Lizzie because she’s a scholarship student. But she still wants him to like her.
The write-up of this “regency dystopian” makes a lot of promises: Electromagnetic pulses that ruin everything! Embarrassing family antics and men who won’t stop flirting with an Elizabeth Bennet who just wants to protect women’s rights! An anonymous tyrant named the Badger! How is he anonymous if he’s also named the Badger? Just the magic that happens when Austen meets apocalypse.
Darcy’s obsessed with his ancestors and wants to rebuild Pemberley. Seraphne Grant is a restoration expert who can help him rebuild the family estate destroyed in the Uprising. Goodreads promises “dirigibles, funky fish, and swash-buckling pirates.”
It’s like Game of Thrones, except Darcy and Lizzie Bennet are the king and queen of the dragons because they have excellent hearing and they don’t trust each other to take care of the dragons properly. Bonus: no one dies at their wedding.
Lydia is abducted by aliens and Lizzie Bennet is forced to join forces with her nemesis Wickham while poor Charlotte falls in love with Lord Byron and Darcy and Mr. Collins spend too much time hanging out together.
Mr. Darcy is a vampire who must control his desire and bloodlust for Elizabeth Bennet. Dark, passionate, London debauchery follows. For more of Mr. Darcy as vampire see the second in the series, Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth and Vampire Darcy’s Desire.
Like Pride and Prejudice but with pugs. Finally, a book that fills in the gaps: “with everything the original lacked—namely, a colourful cast of adorable pugs dressed head to paw in Georgian clothing. Turns out Mr Darcy is even more lovable with a fuzzy muzzle.” And if you need more of the classics, told by “the finest breeds,” Classic Tails has Romeow and Juliet, The Picture of Dorian Greyhound, and The Great Catsby, too.
“Would Elizabeth call Mr. Darcy a poop emoji? Would Darcy drink and dial and accidentally reveal his true feelings complete with a heart emoji?” All we can say about that is: thinky face emoji.
In which Mr. Darcy is an artificial intelligence program designed by an Austenite looking for love. But when AI Darcy starts using “its scary degree of emotional intelligence” to threaten the job security of the programmer who made him and her colleague who is trying to sell him, the marriage plot goes off track.
President Darcy “has it all: wealth, intelligence, and the most powerful job in the country” and vows to stay single while in office, but he finds himself attracted to Elizabeth Bennet, who works for the Red Cross and has a “nouveau-riche” embarrassing family. The president meets her and her family at a White House state dinner, things go awry, and the president calls her “unattractive and uninteresting” which gets blasted on Twitter.
The full moon turns all the men of Regency England into different animals: skunks, wolves, etc. Mr. Darcy, who appears to be superior to Elizabeth Bennet by day, is harboring his own shameful secret. The full moon turns him into a platypus. No shade to Jane Austen, but we want to see this one replace Pride and Prejudice proper on every high school syllabus.