Literary Anniversaries: 18 July
Today we celebrate the anniversaries of two important writers whose lives overlapped by just six years.
Firstly, Jane Austen died on 18 July 1817. Fans should prepare themselves for a slew of celebratory events for her bicentennial next year!
It’s hard to find something new to say about such a celebrated author. And yet, almost like Shakespeare, we know relatively little about her as a person. The overwhelming majority of her private papers and letters were deliberately destroyed. Another interesting fact, and similarity with the Brontë sisters, is that her novels were not first published in her name – see the accompanying picture! As a result, she didn’t get the fame that she deserved until many years after her death.
On the same day that Austen died, William Makepeace Thackeray was celebrating his sixth birthday, having been born in 1811.
Thackeray is only generally known nowadays for his important novel, Vanity Fair. From a distance it can be hard to remember that he was an accomplished satirist who attacked his contemporaries in the tradition of other writers like Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde.
He had one other notable skill – Thackeray provided illustrations for his works – something I always find fascinating – almost like detailed stage directions in a play.