A few of our favorite long-dead authors whose social media presences would have been to die for…
Let’s get this one out of the way right now: Shakespeare – arguably the greatest writer of all time – would have had no problem being brilliant in 140 characters. His super popular Twitter feed would be the perfect mix of hilarious dirty jokes, shameless self-advertisement, and eloquent, poetic turns of phrase – all with thousands of retweets. Plus, each new episode of each new original web series that he and his group of actor friends would put out on YouTube every month or so would have absolutely everyone watching. It’s not like there wouldn’t be a good reason for his millions of views and followers – no one has ever been more #relatable when it comes to the universalities of human nature. The snobs of our time would look down on him for catering to the vulgar masses just as the snobs of Elizabethan England did, but social media Shakespeare would just keep providing what IRL Shakespeare did best: entertainment, on every platform.
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
If there’s one thing F. Scott Fitzgerald knew how to do besides write the Great American Novel, it’s party. You just know that if iPhones had existed to document the wild nights of Scott and Zelda back in the roaring twenties, their infamous antics would be all over Snapchat and Instagram (with only the classiest of carefully selected filters, of course). Make sure to RSVP to their latest exclusive Facebook invite – you wouldn’t want to feel left out the next day when “that rager at the Fitzgeralds’ last night” is all everyone who’s anyone can talk about – and don’t feel too jealous scrolling through that picturesque new photo album of their latest trip to France… One of Scott’s favorite themes was ‘illusion vs. reality’, after all.
Mad, bad, dangerous to know…and riotously entertaining to follow on social media. The real-life Lord Byron was cultivating a personal brand long before the concept of ‘personal branding’ even existed, and social media Byron would have a rabid YouTube and Vine following. His content would alternate between brooding slam poetry, romantic vlogs with a new girlfriend or boyfriend every month, snide reviews of other writers’ works, and outlandish six-second pranks and dares (the most recent one involved a bear), all while complaining about how much he hates being internet famous. He’d be known to hook up with his fans, until one fangirl named Claire has a pregnancy scare and another named Caroline starts stalking him – then, he’d just play up the shipper rumors about him and his best friend Shelley.
Who could be more suited to bite-sized – and bitingly clever – bon mots than the incomparable Oscar Wilde, who pretty much epitomized the concept of ‘author as celebrity’? Oscar’s tweets (and subtweets) would spare no one, and his Snapchat stories would be legendary. Sure, his social media persona would be controversial and polarizing, but modern gay icon Oscar wouldn’t have it any other way.
Much like Oscar, Mark Twain is already quoted constantly on social media, since he churned out so many immensely quotable letters, essays, and books in his own time that we’re still finding hilarious and relevant today. Imagine Twain taking his considerable verbal talents to Twitter – with a witty joke for every issue and a smartass comment for every story between publishing widely-read bestsellers and widely-downloaded podcasts, he’d give even our best comedians and social critics a run for their money.
Cicero was one of ancient Rome’s greatest orators, and he would without a doubt be one of the modern world’s greatest bloggers, writing long, impassioned blog posts about everything from politics to the cultural decay of our society. In his lifetime, Cicero essentially pioneered the concepts of self-publishing and social networking, actively courting influential friends to endorse and publicize his books, hosting launch parties for each new manuscript, and posting copies of speeches or letters addressed to the public around Rome for citizens to read. Modern Cicero wouldn’t just ‘get’ social media – he’d excel at it.
Jane Austen’s characters were always making embarrassing social errors, hosting or attending fancy garden parties, and planning their weddings – can’t you just imagine social media Jane’s pointed Tumblr reblogs, elaborate Facebook events, and meticulously organized Pinterest page? She’d be judging all your statuses, but in a really polite way. You’d start to kind of hate her for seeming so perfect and being so smug about it, until she’d leave a really sweet comment on a photo of you and your boyfriend or post another funny photo of her cat.
THE MITFORD SISTERS
Move over, Kim, Kendall, Kylie, Khloe, and Kourtney – the Mitford sisters were the original Kardashians. Except, you know, with actual literary talent. (Sorry, Rebels: City of Indra fans.) From Nancy’s scathing family tell-all books to Unity’s disastrous love affair with Hitler, the aristocratic Mitford sisters’ very public scandals and frank, amusing letters to each other captivated World World II-era Britain – now imagine all of that playing out in the age of social media. If Diana’s imprisonment for treason didn’t break the internet, Jessica’s shocking elopement with her rebellious cousin and subsequent disownment from the family sure would.
Which historical writer do you wish could have had a social media profile? Let us know in the comments below!