Shortly after completing First Impressions , Austen began writing Sense and Sensibility , which was not published until 1811. She also wrote some shorter stories during this time, which she later expanded into full novels. Between 1810 and 1812, Austen rewrote Pride and Prejudice for publication. While the original ideas in the novel came from a 21-year-old girl, the final version reflects the literary and thematic maturity of a thirty-five year old woman who had spent years painstakingly drafting and revising, as Austen did with all of her novels. Pride and Prejudice is the most popular of Austen's novels.
Inheritance was by descent, but could be further restricted by entailment , which would restrict inheritance to male heirs only. In the case of the Bennet family, Mr. Collins was to inherit the family estate upon Mr. Bennet's death and his proposal to Elizabeth would have ensured her future security. Nevertheless, she refuses his offer. Inheritance laws benefited males because most women did not have independent legal rights until the second half of the 19th century. As a consequence, women's financial security at that time depended on men. For the upper-middle and aristocratic classes, marriage to a man with a reliable income was almost the only route to security for the woman and her future children.  The irony of the novel's opening line, therefore, is that generally within this society it would be a woman who would be looking for a wealthy husband in order to have prosperous life.