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Shakespeare & Beyond

Jane Austen's Shakespeare

Will and Jane graphicJane Austen, who was born in 1775, came of age in the 1790s and started publishing in the 1810s; her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, came out in 1811. She died in 1817, which makes 2017 the 200th anniversary of her death.

The Folger exhibition Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity (August 6 to November 6, 2016) explores how Austen’s fame, and William Shakespeare’s, not only persisted after their deaths, but soared—with a major boost for each author about 200 years after his or her lifetime.

Because she lived two centuries after Shakespeare, Jane Austen had a chance to experience his early rise towards literary megastardom firsthand. She read and admired his work, referenced him in her own novels, and saw his plays performed.