Posts By: Kristina Straub

Will and Jane go to war

During World War I, the works of Shakespeare and Austen reached American troops on active duty through the American Library Association’s “War Service Library” program.  Between 1917 and 1920, the program collected donations of used books to help them distribute reading materials to the military, ultimately amounting to over 100 million books and magazines to… Continue Reading »


What turns a good writer into a superstar? 200 years and plenty of spectacle

In commemoration of the approximate 200th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the London actor and theatrical entrepreneur David Garrick launched the first celebration of Shakespeare as “the god of our idolatry” in 1769, helping to fashion the Bard as the larger-than-life, iconic representation of English literary achievement. The events that Garrick planned on the sacred site… Continue Reading »


Repetition is celebrity: Shakespeare and Austen

As curators of Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity we both began our work in the archives with established interests in the connections between literary greatness and consumer culture. Janine has written about the marketing tactics and packaging of the earliest English novels as well as about modern book jackets, while… Continue Reading »


Will and Jane continued: adaptations, modernizations, and fan fiction

Although the Bard may have a longer history of such flattery, both Will and Jane have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous adaptations. In the 20th century, Austen joined Shakespeare in his entrance into modern media—film, television, and digital forms—as well as print spin-offs, fan fiction, radical modernizations, and even travesties. Beginning less than a… Continue Reading »


Collecting Will and Jane

One of the stories told by the current exhibition Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity is that literary renown is as much about commodities as about books. Literary celebrity transforms authors into objects. Our exhibition traces this commodification to the eighteenth century, when Shakespeare (like Austen now) was at the 200-year… Continue Reading »


Jane Austen’s Shakespeare

Jane 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… Continue Reading »


From Hero to Lady Susan: Kate Beckinsale in ‘Love & Friendship’

As curators of the upcoming exhibition Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity opening at the Folger on August 6, we could not help viewing the new Austen film Love & Friendship through a Shakespearean lens—and with an eye to celebrity culture. For us, actress Kate Beckinsale is one of the movie… Continue Reading »