New Year's Eve this year looked very different than it would have a hundred years ago. No midnight selfies to post on Instagram, no club-hopping between venues with a $50 cover and too many drunk people, no last-minute Tinder dates to try and find someone to kiss when the clock strikes twelve. Despite these new ways to celebrate, New Year’s Eve has always been an important night to mark in the calendar, and people have always done something to celebrate. A more sedated ball, a house party (not the kind with red solo cups), a family evening around the fire, or some champagne with a few friends have been the go-to for centuries. And while cultural norms around drinking come and go, one thing is for certain: our favorite authors have no doubt dealt with some serious New Year’s hangovers at one time or another.
But how would these classic literary figures deal with the first day of the year if they were in their prime this winter? We have some thoughts.
Jane Austen: Queen of the Hashtag
Everyone’s favorite sly commenter on the society types would have loved the world of social media—especially when it comes to subtweets and serving up a little shade! Jane would undoubtedly have enjoyed a few New Year's parties with the in-crowd, although she probably spent much of it looking down on the people taking their hashtags too seriously. By January 1, she’s at home dissecting the night with her friends, and adding her own witty commentary to Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Be prepared—Ms. Austen’s biting comments would probably hurt more than the hangover, for those on the receiving end!
Ernest Hemingway: Bottomless Mimosa Brunch
Hemingway wouldn’t be dealing with much of a hangover, but not because the author didn’t overindulge on New Year’s Eve. He's an old pro at this stuff, and nothing cures the night before like the morning after! This famous tippler would be the type to head out with some friends for a New Year’s Day brunch, order bottomless mimosas, and keep the party going for another day. Hemingway wouldn’t see the point in putting the booze down on a day off, after all!
Zora Neale Hurston: Hungover And Seek
One of the queens of the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston would have had an amazing night on New Year's Eve and would spend the morning picking up the pieces. She’s been described by peers and friends as vivacious, charming, electric…as well as unreliable and indiscreet. And as every social butterfly with a knack for a good time knows, that inevitably means a backwards bar crawl the next day, collecting lost coats, phones, and who knows what else from day staff. Thankfully, Hurston’s talents for charming everyone would come in very handy as she laughingly retraced her steps.
Edgar Allen Poe: The Complainer
Never one to let an opportunity to get maudlin pass him by, Poe would start 2018 slumped on the couch with the curtains drawn, telling anyone who will listen about just how terrible his hangover is. This poet is the ultimate Netflix-binger come New Year’s Day, with a pounding head and a total unwillingness to just get on with things despite it. And my god, who is knocking so loudly on his chamber door?! It’s just the pizza delivery, Poe.
Emily Dickinson: The Superior Sober One
Renowned hermit Dickinson didn’t go out at all, thank you very much. The thought of having to be around so many people? Absolutely not. She sat up all night writing poetry, and now she’s spending her New Year’s Day enjoying the benefits of sobriety; hangover free, no regrets, no need to hear about something embarrassing she did at the club. She does post a little something on Facebook though, deriding all those people who chose to go out and party it up. After all, New Year's is just another day.
J.R.R. Tolkien: Anything Goes
Although he was a scholar through and through, that doesn’t mean that Tolkien didn’t know how to have a good time. In fact, the Lord of the Rings author was famous for his antics, including dressing up like a polar bear for parties and offering to pay people with his false teeth. There’s no doubt that he was out having some kind of unusual and possibly costumed fun last night, or signing up to do a polar bear swim on New Year's Day…but he may not have made it. This romantic would skip some madness if he was starting the day with a pretty girl in his bed…the best way to cure a hangover! (And you just know he’s texting C.S. Lewis all the details.)