“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

So begins “Pride and Prejudice,” the classic novel of manners, courtship and marriage in Regency England.

When “Pride and Prejudice” was published 200 years ago this week, Jane Austen was an obscure author living with her mother and sister. By the time of her death, just four short years later, she could count among her fans the Prince Regent, who asked her to dedicate a book to him.

In later years, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli claimed to have read “Pride and Prejudice” 17 times.

Today her work is beloved by millions throughout the world. That she continues to be embraced by readers everywhere is testament to her genius for conveying human character and motivation, her clarity of style and her incisive wit.

How popular is Miss Austen? She even has an action figure. It comes equipped with a quill pen, which presumably provides most of the action.

Miss Austen described “Pride and Prejudice,” her second published novel, as “bright, and sparkling” and “my own darling child.” It remains her most popular book, and though some would dispute the assessment, it is generally recognized as her greatest achievement.

Virginia Woolf described Jane Austen as a “perfect artist,” a writer “whose books are immortal.”

Indeed, that would qualify as a truth now universally acknowledged. Step back into time with Miss Austen on the 200th birthday of this great book.