Jane Austen has long been known as one of the most beloved classic writers, with her truly timeless work enduring for centuries. From the romantic and witty Pride and Prejudice to the satirical, gothic edge of Northanger Abbey, Austen’s wide-ranging novels have captured audiences’ attention thanks to fascinating commentary on gender and marriage, spirited and independent women protagonists, and immersive 19th-century settings. If you can’t get enough Jane Austen, infuse similar qualities into your poetry reading with these five collections.
1. you are your own fairy tale by Amanda Lovelace
Readers who love the extravagant balls, matchmaking, and elegant estates in Jane Austen novels might find themselves similarly swept away by the rich fairytale imagery in Amanda Lovelace’s you are your own fairy tale collection. From princesses to castles, Lovelace breathtakingly illuminates this world—but, like Austen, she goes beyond tropes to explore the nuances and universality of these stories. Just as Austen’s characters question the social contracts and expectations they must navigate, Lovelace turns cliches on their heads to make an unexpected and empowering feminist argument.
2. The Portable Shakespeare by William Shakespeare
While modern-day authors often incorporate nods to Jane Austen into their work, Austen herself also alluded to literary ancestors and influences. These included Shakespeare, another writer who famously melded wit, romance, and social commentary. In fact, many critics have picked up on a slew of similarities between the two authors, such as their large casts of quirky characters and their love for incorporating long, heartfelt speeches into their dialogue. The Portable Shakespeare offers Austen fans an introduction to another writer who has gone down in history.
3. The Complete Poems by Emily Brontë
Jane Austen and Emily Brontë are often mistakenly called contemporaries—but Austen published her most famous book, Pride and Prejudice, in 1813, while Brontë’s Wuthering Heights was published in 1847. Nevertheless, both writers have been included in academic courses and anthologies about literature in the 19th century, especially literature with a romantic and feminist bent. Brontë definitely continued Austenian traditions, making The Complete Poems a natural next step for Jane Austen devotees.
4. From Me to You by U.A. Fanthorpe and R.V. Bailey
Born in 1929, poet U.A. Fanthorpe was also an English writer who used themes of love to explore larger social issues. She spent time in Surrey, Oxford, and Bath, meaning that many of the settings found in Austen’s work also play a role in Fanthorpe’s poetry. From Me to You, which Fanthorpe co-authored with her partner of 44 years and fellow poet R.V. Bailey, strived to emulate classic writing about love and romance. It features love poems the two wrote to each other on accompanying pages, channeling the same type of stimulating, intellectual partnership at the center of many of Jane Austen’s books.
5. The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy
Jane Austen’s work has endured for many reasons, but among the most clear and compelling is its complex and detailed examination of women’s social and interior lives. Even more so than today, much of the work published at the time was written by men and focused on male stories. Like Austen, notable British poet Carol Ann Duffy resists this deeply gendered canon and history, retelling fabled stories from a women-centered lens. From the wife of King Midas to the wife of Satan himself, Duffy reaches back through mythological and religious traditions to bring forth overshadowed female perspectives.