BEYOND AUSTEN AND SHELLEY: This Year Is a Milestone for Women's Writing. It Marks the 200th Anniversary of Novels Published by Two of the Most Eminent Female Authors Who Ever Wrote in English: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Fane Austen's Northanger Abbey and Persuasion

By Looser, Devoney | Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Spring 2018 | Go to article overview

BEYOND AUSTEN AND SHELLEY: This Year Is a Milestone for Women's Writing. It Marks the 200th Anniversary of Novels Published by Two of the Most Eminent Female Authors Who Ever Wrote in English: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Fane Austen's Northanger Abbey and Persuasion


Looser, Devoney, Phi Kappa Phi Forum


Remarkably, Frankenstein was Shelley's first novel. It was published anonymously, although with enough clues to her identity that word got out. Sadly, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were Austen's final works of fiction, brought out by surviving family members. Her brother's biographical notice named her, for the first time, as the author of six novels, including Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816). The 1810s were quite a decade--and 1818 was an exceptional year--for literary history and female authorship.

We don't think of Frankenstein's gripping story of an ambitious male scientist's creating life from death and Persuasions aging heroine who gets a second chance at love as being in the hands of some of the same readers, mere months apart. Yet when we talk about Austen (1775-1817) and Shelley (1797-1851) in tandem, similarities come into view.

The two share an unrivaled staying power, akin to Shakespeare's. Their names, works, and characters remain omnipresent in films, television, children's books, and video games, as well as on jewelry, posters, and puzzles. There is a Jane Austen College and a Mary Shelley Pub. Both authors continue not only to win over and entertain readers but to wow discriminating critics and invite acclaim. Austen, whose bicentenary was commemorated in July, was last year chosen to grace the Bank of England's new ten-pound note and two-pound coin. It happened after a campaign that sought to bring a woman other than the queen onto that country's male-dominated currency. What's believed to be the world's first statue of Austen was unveiled in Basingstoke, England. …

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BEYOND AUSTEN AND SHELLEY: This Year Is a Milestone for Women's Writing. It Marks the 200th Anniversary of Novels Published by Two of the Most Eminent Female Authors Who Ever Wrote in English: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Fane Austen's Northanger Abbey and Persuasion
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