Events with Stephen Grant, Paul Dickson, David Kastan, Stacy Keach, Edward Gero, and Adam Gopnik

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.228  Monday, 5 May 2014


From:        John F Andrews <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 2, 2014 at 1:41:12 PM EDT

Subject:    Events with Stephen Grant, Paul Dickson, David Kastan, Stacy Keach, Edward Gero, and Adam Gopnik


Stephen Grant Portrays the Founders of the Folger Shakespeare Library


Monday, May 12, at 6:30 p.m.

National Arts Club

15 Gramercy Park South, Manhattan

Free and Open to the Public


People are often surprised to learn that the world’s largest repository of Shakespeareana is to be found, not in London or Stratford, but in Washington. How this came to be is the subject of a fascinating new biography by Stephen H. Grant. He tells the remarkable story of Henry and Emily Jordan Folger, a quiet Brooklyn couple who devoted their lives to Collecting Shakespeare. Henry was a close associate of John D. Rockefeller, and he eventually rose to the helm of the Standard Oil Company of New York. But the philanthropic passion that obsessed a major corporation’s most unassuming executive was not to become public till April 23, 1932, when President Hoover presided over a Capitol Hill ceremony at which the Folger Shakespeare Library was presented to the American people. After his conversation with John F. Andrews, a scholar who spent a decade as Director of Academic Programs at the institution the Folgers created, Mr. Grant will sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase.


Yale’s David Scott Kastan Discusses Shakespeare and Religion


Tuesday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m.

Dicapo Opera Theatre

184 East 76th Street, Manhattan

Members $10, Others $20


David Kastan is the first American to serve as a General Editor of The Arden Shakespeare, a prestigious collection that has been England’s standard-bearer for more than a century. A distinguished professor at Yale University, Mr. Kastan has also won plaudits for his teaching at Dartmouth College and Columbia University. His many publications include Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time (1982), Shakespeare After Theory (1999), and Shakespeare and the Book (2001). Mr. Kastan co-edited Stagng the Renaissance: Essays on Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (1991), and he is the sole editor of The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature (2006). For this occasion he’ll focus primarily on A Will to Believe: Shakespeare and Religion (2014), and after he chats with Mr. Andrews and responds to questions from the audience, he’ll be happy to inscribe copies, which will be on hand for those who wish to obtain them.


Paul Dickson Explores the Expressions We Derive From Shakespeare and Other Authors


Wednesday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m.

Dicapo Opera Theatre

184 East 76th Street, Manhattan

Members $10, Others $20


We’ve long known that hundreds of familiar words and phrases originated with Shakespeare. But which ones, and how many? And how much do we owe to writers such as Austen, Chaucer, Scott, and Twain? That is the subject of Authorisms, our latest “dicksonary” from Paul Dickson. Acclaimed for his authoritative Baseball Dictionary, now in its third edition, Mr. Dickson has also treated us to The Congress Dictionary: The Ways and Meanings of Capitol Hill, to Words from the White House, and to Journalese: A Dictionary for Deciphering the News. A former editor for Merriam-Webster, Mr. Dickson has appeared on All Things Considered and other NPR programs, and he was a frequent contributor to the late William Safire’s popular “On Language” column for the New York Times Magazine. His latest volume will be on hand for purchase, and after he talks with Mr. Andrews and addresses comments and queries from those who attend this presentation, he’ll be delighted to sign copies.


Talking about the Henry IV  Plays with Stacy Keach and Edward Gero


Thursday, May 29, at 12:15

Woman’s National Democratic Club

1526 New Hampshire Avenue, Washington

Luncheon & Program $30


As Falstaff in Michael Kahn’s riveting interpretation of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, one of America’s most distinguished and versatile actors is returning to a role he first played four decades ago in Central Park. Not only has Stacy Keach earned plaudits in such classics as Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and Richard III. He has also depicted Lyndon Johnson in Barbara Garson’s Macbird, and LBJ’s White House successor in Frost/Nixon. Meanwhile he is renowned for dozens of television hits, among them his celebrated Mike Hammer series, and for roles in more than seventy films, most recently Nebraska, an Oscar contender for Best Picture. Joining Mr. Keach is Edward Gero, a winner of four Helen Hayes Awards and a nominee for nearly a dozen more.  Mr. Gero is completing a Shakespeare Theatre journey that commenced twenty years ago when he played Bolingbroke to Richard Thomas’ title figure in Richard II. He’ll soon be starring as Justice Scalia in an Arena Stage premiere of The Originalist, a show that could well be bound for Broadway in 2015. After a wide-ranging dialogue with Mr. Andrews, both stars will respond to questions and comments from the audience. And Mr. Keach will be available to sign copies of All in All: An Actor’s Life On and Off the Stage, which will be on hand for purchase.   


Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker  Reflects on Bardic Relics


Monday, June 23, at 6:30 p.m.

National Arts Club

15 Gramercy Park South, Manhattan

Guild Members $10, Others $20


In “The Poet’s Hand,” one of the most riveting and talked-about articles he’s ever written for The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik asks “Why do we still search for relics of the Bard?” It’s an intriguing question, and Mr. Gopnik focuses it on two developments that have the potential to alter our perceptions of a playwright whose works seem just as vibrant and timely today as they were when he was at the peak of his career at the Globe. Best known for Paris to the Moon, a touching account of the years he and his family spent in the City of Light, Mr. Gopnik has also enriched our lives with Americans in Paris and The Table Comes First: France, Family, and the Meaning of Food. One of his recent titles, Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, was hinted at during a National Arts Club conversation with Mr. Andrews in 2008. It’s conceivable that this gathering will feature another preview, relating to a book project that will be taking Mr. Gopnik to London this summer. 


To reserve space for these engagements, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 505-988-9560. If you wish, you may pay at the door for the programs on May 13-14. For more information about these and other Shakespeare Guild offerings, please visit  


John F. Andrews, President

The Shakespeare Guild

5B Calle San Martin

Santa Fe, NM 87506-7536

(505) 988-9560


Bryn Mawr College’s SPT Henry 4 on YouTube

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.224  Friday, 2 May 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Friday, May 2, 2014

Subject:    Bryn Mawr College’s SPT Henry 4 on YouTube


Bryn Mawr College Shakespeare Performance Troupe’s Henry 4, Fall 2013.
Directed by Rebecca Cook; Assistant Directed by Libby Wilson. 2:51:33. Now online at YouTube:


World Shakespeare Bibliography Survey

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.223  Friday, 2 May 2014


From:        Laura Estill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 1, 2014 at 4:46:24 PM EDT

Subject:    World Shakespeare Bibliography Survey


Dear Shakespeareans,


The World Shakespeare Bibliography Online ( is looking for your input: please take a five-minute survey to help us better meet your needs.


The survey is here:


The survey will be open until 15 June 2014.


We appreciate your valuable feedback!



Dr. Laura Estill


Assistant Professor of English

Texas A&M University

Editor, World Shakespeare Bibliography


[Editor’s Note: For all those who might not know, Jim Harner has retired and Laura Estill is taking over as Editor of the WSB. Best wishes to both Jim and Laura –Hardy]


Review: Collecting Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.221  Thursday, 1 May 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Thursday, May 1, 2014

Subject:    Review: Collecting Shakespeare


Stephen H. Grant. Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. 264 pages. 32 halftones. ISBN: 9781421411873.


The other day I finished Stephen Grant’s Collecting Shakespeare. I enjoyed reading it, particularly about the directors over the years, the behind the scenes bidding wars between Folger and Huntington, the details of the building of the library itself, and the story of Henry and Emily. I especially liked reading about the acquisition of some of the books I have used at the Folger and the dealers and collectors they were purchased from Rosenbach and William White, for example.  The story of the commissioning and building of the Puck statue was also fascinating. I was, however, less interested in how Folger got his wealth than I was in how it was used. 


Nevertheless, we learn in chapter four: “Henry Folger created the wealth to buy Shakespeare in four major ways: a five-decade salary from Standard Oil; investments in the company and its affiliates that generated substantial dividends; careful money management; and a major investment in Magnolia Petroleum Company, which generated very large dividends and a huge profit when it was sold.” We further learn that “It seems incontrovertible, therefore, that this uncharacteristic involvement with Magnolia yielded much, if not most, of the money Folger spent to create his dream, the Shakespeare Library.” In this “murky” involvement, Folger acted as a front for Standard Oil. 


The irony, of course, the a great concentration of wealth is necessary for collecting the books for and building something like the Folger Shakespeare Library or the Mellon National Gallery of Art or Barnes Foundation or . . . the list goes on back to the Italian Renaissance and the days of the pharaohs. I have a deep-seated aversion to capitalism as it is generally practiced in the United States and international economy, but would I not want the pyramids, the Sistine Chapel, or the Folger Library: no. So I am caught in a contradiction.


I do unabashedly love the Folger Shakespeare Library. I have attended performances at the Elizabethan Theater since the late 1970s and have been a reader since the 1980s. I have handled quartos of original printings of the Sonnets (1609) and Lucrece (1594). I have been a participant in a Folger Seminar. I have made discoveries such as when I found a variation in Lucrece that had not been noticed before: “Unnoticed Variant Reading in Q1 Lucrece, 1594. Notes and Queries. 52.2 (June 2005: Vol. 250 of the continuous series): 193-195. I have even donated a book that was appraised at $15,000 to the library: Werff, Adriaen van der, 1659-1722. Historical portraits. [Rotterdam? Reinier Leers? n.d.]. 66 plates (ports.) 38 cm.


Stephen H. Grant’s Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger provides accounts of interest to lovers of the Folger Library in particular and books in general. It is well worth the read, and I recommend it highly.


On his web site, Grant list ten Folger facts <>:


Ten Cameos from the Folgers’ World

  1. In 1879, Henry and Emily both graduated Phi Beta Kappa from college (Amherst and Vassar). Each needed financial assistance to finish college. None of their parents had ever been to college.
  2. Henry served over forty years as an executive at the Standard Oil Company. John D. Rockefeller called him a “just and good man, tenderly loved by his associates.”
  3. Emily kept a play diary, noting in it details of the 125 Shakespeare performances she saw: elocution, eye contact, mobility of face. Was the play cut? Were costumes historically accurate?
  4. When Henry returned to his Brooklyn home at the end of his work day, Emily handed him the British auction catalogues marked up with her suggestions for Shakespeare items to bid on.
  5. Henry wrote, “I started collecting Shakespeare expecting that it would prove an agreeable recreation; it soon become a delightful hobby, but of late I find it a rather tyrannical master.”
  6. Shakespeare’s “First Folio,” published in 1623, became Henry’s obsession. He acquired 82 copies, about one third of those in existence today. They are all different in some way.
  7. To purchase land on which to build the Library, Folger discreetly bought over a nine-year period fourteen of the most elegant row houses one block from the Capitol.
  8. Before settling on Washington, DC to build the Shakespeare Library, the Folgers considered alternative sites: New York, Chicago, Princeton, Stratford-on-Avon, and even Nantucket.
  9. While the Folger Library is located in the Nation’s capital, it is administered under the auspices of Amherst College, as stipulated in Henry’s will. This came as a surprise to Amherst.
  10. Henry died in 1930. The Folger Shakespeare Library was inaugurated in 1932. President and Mrs. Hoover attended the ceremony. Emily died in 1936.


Other information about the book can be found here:


Lexicons of Early Modern English

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.220  Thursday, 1 May 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Thursday, May 1, 2014

Subject:    Lexicons of Early Modern English


Lexicons of Early Modern English 


Recently added to LEME

  1. Stephen Batman, “A note of Saxon wordes” (1581)
  2. Richard Boothby, A Brief Discovery or Description of the Most Famous Island of Madagascar (1646)
  3. Thomas Dekker, O per se O (1612)
  4. John Heydon, “A Chymical Dictionary” (English; 1662): 70 word-entries.
  5. Gregory Martin, The New Testament of the English College of Rheims (1582)
  6. Gerhard Mercator, Historia Mundi Or Mercator’s Atlas (1635)
  7. John Ogilby, Asia, the First Part (1673)
  8. John Rider’s Bibliotheca Scholastica (English-Latin, 1589): 42,000 word-entries and sub-entries.
  9. Richard Rowlands’ A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities (1605; Richard Verstegan; text replaced by an extended and analyzed version)
  10. Nicholas Stone, Enchiridion of Fortification (1645)
  11. John Thorie, The Theatre of the Earth (1601; place-names): 3,100 word-entries.
  12. John Turner, A Book of Wines (1568)

Neither Rider nor Thorie has been transcribed before.


The addition of Rider’s Bibliotheca Scholastica completes LEME’s series of major English bilingual dictionaries and monolingual glossaries (Thomasius, Rider, Hollyband, Florio, Minsheu, Cawdrey, Cotgrave) published during Shakespeare’s career. Thorie’s Theatre continues LEME’s series of proper- and place-name dictionaries (Rowlands and Dodderidge). LEME now has 633,000 word-entries.

XML Source Code for Folger Digital Texts

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.219  Thursday, 1 May 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Thursday, May 1, 2014

Subject:    XML Source Code for Folger Digital Texts


Gather round Geeks:


In a recent announcement the Folger Shakespeare Library revealed: 


We’ve released the XML source code for all 38 Shakespeare plays on Folger Digital Texts. Jump in, explore, and share with us what you’re up to!


On my iMac I use the Coda program to view the source code in the editing screen and the preview screen to read the text as it is published online at


Thank you Director of the Folger Library Michael Witmore and Director of Digital Access Eric Johnson.


CFP: Pacific Northwest Renaissance Conference

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.215  Wednesday, 30 April 2014


From:        Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 29, 2014 at 5:18:46 PM EDT

Subject:    Call for PNRS Conference in the Fall


The next meeting of the Pacific Northwest Renaissance Conference will take place on the weekend of October 22 to 24 in Kelowna, a resort town at the centre of British Columbia’s wine country.


The Pacific Northwest Renaissance Society (PNRS) promotes scholarship in Early Modern Studies by hosting an annual conference, held alternately in the United States and Canada and open to all scholars from North America and beyond, including graduate students. The PNRS is an affiliate of both the Renaissance Society of America and the Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies / Société Canadienne d'études de la Renaissance.


The theme of this year’s conference is “The Global Renaissance.” George Saliba, of Columbia University, and Lesley Cormack, of the University of Alberta, will provide keynote addresses. The theme should be understood broadly, but we particularly welcome papers on exploration narratives, geographical knowledge, and contact and influence between cultures and languages. While the Renaissance is usually considered a European event, neither its sources nor its influence are confined to western Europe. We therefore seek to work actively with scholars of both European and transatlantic culture and society from 1300-1700, including art historians, economists, historians, scholars of religion, theatre historians and practitioners, scholars in the history of science and medicine, political scientists, and comparativists. Papers are usually presented in English, but may concern the literature, history or culture of any language.


For individual papers, please send a one-page abstract or proposal and a one-page c.v. to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than June 15th, 2014.


To propose a panel, please send an abstract for each paper, a one-page c.v. for each presenter, and a paragraph from the panel organizer describing the overall focus of the session to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than June 15th, 2014.


Papers must be kept to a twenty-minute reading time, including any technical and electronic support. All papers should be essentially new and never before presented in public.


For more information see:


A 450th Birthday Present from the British Shakespeare Association

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.204  Wednesday, 23 April 2014


From:        British Shakespeare Association <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 22, 2014 at 7:13:48 PM EDT

Subject:    A 450th Birthday Present from the British Shakespeare Association


The Board of Trustees of the British Shakespeare Association has agreed to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday with a special gift to all school teachers. From this September, membership of the BSA will be free to all school teachers (primary and secondary level) for the membership year 2014-15. If you are currently a member and teach in a school, you won’t have to pay to continue your membership when the current membership year ends in August. To make sure you benefit from this offer, please pre-register at http ://www . britishshakespeare . ws/education/education-members/

The Board is very keen to use this offer to expand the number of school teachers in our Association. If you know teachers who you think will be interested in joining the BSA, please send them the link above and encourage them to sign up. 

To qualify for this offer you will need to be a school teacher working in a primary or secondary school teaching children under 18. You will be entitled to all membership benefits including the opportunity to purchase the Routledge journal at the membership rate of £15. 

With this birthday present, the BSA affirms its committment to promoting the important role school teachers play in introducing Shakespeare to the next generation. 

Best wishes

Stuart Hampton-Reeves

Chair of the Board of Trustees


Today’s the day?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.203  Wednesday, 23 April 2014


From:        Hardy Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 23, 2014 at 10:58:24 AM EDT

Subject:    Today’s the day?


Today, I begin with a few presents on the traditional date for the celebration of William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday 


Today’s Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online’s Life of the Week is Peter Holland’s marvelous entry for William Shakespeare:


It is well worth a reading or a re-reading, whatever the case.




Shakespeare, William (1564–1616), playwright and poet, was baptized, probably by the parish priest, John Bretchgirdle (or Bracegirdle), in Holy Trinity, the parish church of Stratford upon Avon, on 26 April 1564, the third child of John Shakespeare (d. 1601) [see below] and Mary Arden (d. 1608). It seems appropriate that the first of many gaps in the records of Shakespeare’s life should be the exact date of his birth, though that is a common problem for the period. He was probably born on 21, 22, or 23 April 1564, given the 1559 prayer book’s instructions to parents on the subject of baptisms. But, ever since Joseph Greene, an eighteenth-century Stratford curate, informed the scholar George Steevens that Shakespeare was born on 23 April, with no apparent evidence for his assertion, and Steevens adopted that date in his 1773 edition of Shakespeare, it has been usual to assume that Shakespeare was born on St George’s day, so that England’s patron saint and the birth of the ‘national poet’ can be celebrated on the same day. Where he was born is clearer: in 1564 his parents appear to have been living in Henley Street, probably in part of the building now known as Shakespeare’s Birthplace but, equally probably, not in that part of the building in which the room traditionally known as the place of Shakespeare’s birth is located. The accretion of myth and commerce around Shakespeare’s biography and its material legacy produces such paradoxes.


Shakespeare's parents

Richard Shakespeare, a husbandman and probably John’s father, had settled in Snitterfield near Stratford by 1529 and had died by February 1561, leaving property that he rented from Robert Arden of Wilmcote. Robert Arden was a member of the younger branch of the powerful Arden family; his father, Thomas Arden, lived at Wilmcote and passed lands, probably quite extensive, to his son. Robert married twice: with his first wife, Agnes Hill, née Webbe, he had at least eight children, all girls, the youngest of whom was Mary; there appear to have been no children from the second marriage, though there were stepchildren.

The two families, Ardens and Shakespeares, were linked by Richard Shakespeare’s tenancy from Robert Arden. But John Shakespeare (b. in or before 1530, d. 1601) did not continue Richard’s occupation. By the time he married Mary Arden (some time between November 1556 and 1558), he had established himself in Stratford as a glover and whittawer (a dresser of light-coloured leather). He lived in Henley Street, buying a house and garden there in 1556 and starting to buy further property in town. In this he might well have been helped by his wife’s inheritance: in Robert Arden’s will of November 1556 she was named one of the two executors and supervised the substantial inventory of his goods and moveables in December 1556 after his death. She also inherited the valuable estate in Wilmcote known as Asbies, land that on her marriage came to her husband.

John and Mary Shakespeare were probably married in Aston Cantlow, the parish church for Wilmcote and the place where Robert Arden wanted to be buried. The exact date of the wedding is unknown but their first child, Joan, was born in September 1558 (and may well have died in infancy); Margaret was baptized in December 1562 and was buried the following April. A year later William was born. He survived the devastating plague that killed one in eight of the town’s population later the same year. There were five more children: Gilbert (1566–1612), another Joan (born 1569, indicating that John and Mary’s first child must have died by that year; she was the only sibling to outlive William, dying in 1646), Anne (1571–1579), Richard (1574–1613), and Edmund (1580–1607). All but Anne lived to adulthood. William’s childhood was thus spent in a steadily increasing family and there were other relatives nearby: his uncle Henry Shakespeare, John’s brother, lived in Snitterfield and many of his mother’s sisters married local men.

John Shakespeare bought more property in Stratford in 1575, almost certainly including the rest of the ‘Birthplace’, creating a substantial house which even though it incorporated space for his workshop amounted to a fine home for his expanding family. But this period was also one of ever-increasing civic importance for John Shakespeare. He had risen through the lesser offices of the borough and, by the time of William’s birth, was one of the fourteen burgesses of Stratford. In 1565 he became an alderman and in 1568 was elected bailiff for the year, the highest office in the town. In 1571 he became chief alderman and deputy bailiff. At about this time he also seems to have applied for a coat of arms. The family’s wealth was also growing and the civic importance and high social standing that John Shakespeare had achieved in a brief period provided the context for William’s upbringing.

But in the following years something seems to have gone wrong with John Shakespeare’s finances. At the start of the 1570s he was stretching his commercial activities beyond his trade, dealing illegally in wool and also being prosecuted for usury. By the end of the decade he was in debt; in 1578 he mortgaged some of Mary’s inheritance and lost it in 1580 when he could not repay the sum, land that would otherwise have been inherited by William in due course. He stopped attending council meetings after 1576 as well, and was replaced as an alderman in 1586. All of this too provided a family context for William’s youth; the decline in John Shakespeare’s fortunes cannot have been unaccompanied by anxiety.


John Shakespeare and Catholicism

In 1592 John was listed by the presenters for the parish of Stratford upon Avon as an obstinate recusant, among nine on the list whose absence was identified by the presenters and by the commissioners to whom they reported as being ‘for feare of processe for Debtte’ (Schoenbaum, Documentary Life, 39). There is no self-evident reason to distrust this statement, though it has been seen as an excuse to cover secret Catholicism. Certainly some Catholics feigned debt as a reason for recusancy but John Shakespeare’s debts seem real enough.


[ . . . ]


Death and burial

On 23 April 1616 Shakespeare died. John Ward, a clergyman living in Stratford in the 1660s, recorded that ‘Shakespear, Drayton, and Ben Jhonson had a merry meeting, and itt seems drank too hard, for Shakespear died of a feavour there contracted’ (Chambers, 2.250). The story is not impossible but quite what Shakespeare died from is unknown. He was buried two days later in Holy Trinity, inside the church rather than in the churchyard because his purchase of an interest in the Stratford tithes in 1605 made him a lay rector. The epitaph, possibly written by himself, warning future generations to leave his bones where they lay, was inscribed on the grave, though the grave may not originally have been where the stone is now placed. Anne lived until 1623 (she was buried on 8 August) but her tombstone makes no mention of her husband, and refers to only one daughter; Judith seems to have been ignored.


[ . . . ]


The authorship controversy

Within the century’s enshrining of Shakespeare as the icon of the nation there were also other voices of opposition, especially the growth of the belief that the plays, acknowledged as masterpieces, could not possibly have been the work of the ‘man from Stratford’, a mere actor and not a poet (there are shades here of the Romantic glorification of the poet removed from the quotidian world). The idea that someone else had written the plays was said to have been first advanced by the Revd James Wilmot in 1785 (his candidate was reported to have been Francis Bacon) but the lectures that claimed Wilmot held such views, supposedly given by James Corton Cowell in 1805, are now known to be a much later forgery. In 1848 Joseph C. Hart, American consul at Santa Cruz, argued in The Romance of Yachting that the plays were written by university graduates and foisted off as Shakespeare’s. In 1856 Delia Bacon claimed that Francis Bacon or a committee headed by him had been responsible. Her ascription was repeated, independently, by William Henry Smith the following year. Many editors from Pope onwards had doubted Shakespeare’s responsibility for some speeches, scenes, even whole plays—but this was a dislodging of Shakespeare from any authorship of any of his work.

The controversy that followed was energetic. Other candidates emerged, including Edward de Vere, seventeenth earl of Oxford (proposed by J. Thomas Looney in 1920 and supported by Sigmund Freud), the earl of Rutland (the idea of Peter Alvor in Germany in 1906 and popular there for a while), the earl of Derby (first advanced in 1891 but most strongly in France after 1919), Christopher Marlowe (according to William Ziegler in 1895 and advanced even more strenuously by Calvin Hoffman in 1955), and Queen Elizabeth (George Elliott’s proposal in 1956). All these claims surmount the contemporary evidence for Shakespeare by arguing for an early modern conspiracy and often a later one among academics and others to suppress the ‘truth’. Many resolve the inconveniently early death of their candidate by arguing for posthumous slow release of the plays. Some indulge in cryptograms of mind-boggling complexity to reveal the hidden ‘truth’ of their assertions. Some, like Delia Bacon, were or became mad in pursuit of their claims. Marlowe apart, whose literary ability is unquestioned, all depend on assumptions that the plays display knowledge available only to an aristocrat, university educated, well travelled, and a habitué of courts. This snobbery is exemplified by the comment of Christmas Humphreys, an Oxfordian and a barrister, in 1955: ‘It is offensive to scholarship, to our national dignity, and to our sense of fair play to worship the memory of a petty-minded tradesman’ (Bate, Genius, 93). All distort evidence for their own ends. None is remotely convincing to scholars, though many others have been and remain steadfastly sure that Shakespeare could not have written Shakespeare.


[ . . . ]


Shakespeare and popular culture

For if Shakespeare has often seemed to some to be the prerogative of English high culture, then throughout the world Shakespeare, his image, and his works have been appropriated for every kind of popular cultural usage, signs both of his cultural authority and of the cultural contestation his works provoke.

In Britain politicians of the left and right rely on Shakespeare as a national and quasi-religious authority for their political creeds. The Labour leader Neil Kinnock, the heir to nineteenth-century political oratory with its predilection for quoting Shakespeare, required his speech-writers to know the Bible and Shakespeare, the twin bedrocks of working-class culture. At the opposite end of the political spectrum, right-wing Conservative politicians like Michael Portillo returned with mechanical frequency to Ulysses’s speech on degree in Troilus and Cressida as ‘proof’ that Shakespeare supported the hierarchies and institutions tories were committed to maintain.

Shakespeare’s plays are quoted in every kind of popular film and television programme. Episodes in many situation comedies show how contested the place of Shakespeare is in American or British society as children wrestle with Shakespeare homework, parents quote Shakespeare defiantly, or the school Shakespeare production looms. The last of the original Star Trek films, Star Trek VI (1991), quotes Shakespeare in its subtitle, The Undiscovered Country, and jokes about Shakespeare sounding better in the original Klingon, a language invented for the television series whose devotees have indeed ‘translated’ Hamlet into Klingon (2000). There are pornographic films with fragments of Shakespearian plots (both heterosexual and homosexual) and strip clubs that have tried to avoid censorship by having the strippers speak Shakespeare’s lines.

In the camp horror film Theatre of Blood (1973), a disgruntled Shakespearian actor, played by Vincent Price, murders theatre critics in appropriately Shakespearian ways. The science-fiction film Forbidden Planet (1956) spawned a musical stage adaptation, Return to the Forbidden Planet (1989), which used classic rock songs and Shakespearian puns (‘Beware the Ids that march’). Versions of twelve plays, made as animated 30-minute episodes by S4C, a Welsh television company, in collaboration with Russian animators, were screened in 1992, the texts adapted by Leon Garfield, author of short narrative versions for children, successors to Lambs’ Tales.

There are strip cartoons which use the entire Shakespeare text in speech bubbles as well as one which shows Shakespeare being given his plots by supernatural beings. A British heavyweight boxer, Frank Bruno, appeared on television in drag in a comedy sketch in which he played Juliet in the balcony scene. Shakespeare’s lines appear in rock songs and rap, while a serious popular singer Elvis Costello collaborated with the classical Brodsky Quartet on The Juliet Letters (1996), whose lyrics are imaginary letters to Shakespeare’s heroine. When listeners to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme voted Shakespeare the ‘Man of the millennium’ in 1999, there was hardly any surprise at the choice. Castaways on Desert Island Discs on BBC, the world’s longest-running radio programme, are always allowed a copy of Shakespeare as well as the Bible for their island.

Shakespeare and his characters have been extensively used for advertising. There are cigars named Hamlet, Romeo y Julieta, Falstaff, and Antonio y Cleopatra. His own image and his characters have been used to sell, for example, Ford cars, Shell petrol, Schweppes soft drinks, and Maxwell House coffee and, since 1986, Coca-Cola, Shreddies breakfast cereal, Typhoo tea, and Carling Black Label lager.

Shakespeare has appeared on English banknotes, as a hologram on British cheque-guarantee cards, and on playing cards. His characters have made up chess sets and cigarette cards. There are statues, streets, squares, piazzas, and avenues named after Shakespeare and after his most famous characters in many cities of the world. There are Shakespeare pubs in many British airports and an American company, Celebriducks, sells plastic Shakespeare ducks for the bath. Souvenirs from Stratford have been available since the eighteenth century and ceramic images of Shakespeare as figurines, on plates, toby jugs, and on the tops of walking-sticks proliferated in the nineteenth.

More seriously, the Shakespeare tourist industry is a vital component of the economic stability of the West Midlands region in England and theatre companies like the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s Globe are major employers. There are no figures available for the value of the global Shakespeare economy, but it must run to many billions of pounds per annum. Quite what this extraordinary plethora of Shakespeare material means lies outside the scope of this account. Its mere existence testifies eloquently to the overwhelming presence of Shakespeare, both the man and his works, throughout almost every aspect of the world’s culture, in almost every language, in ways often so familiar as hardly to be noticed. His biography, the history of his life and his cultural afterlives, is not only national but triumphantly international.

Peter Holland


CFP: Mid-Atlantic Popular Culture Association Conference

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.198  Tuesday, 22 April 2014


From:        Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 21, 2014 at 3:36:14 PM EDT

Subject:    MAPACA CFP


Mid-Atlantic Popular Culture Association Conference 2014


Call for Papers MAPACA 2014

November 6-8, 2014

Baltimore, MD

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Conference


The wealth of material found in the Middle Ages and Renaissance continues to attract modern audiences with new creative works in areas such as fiction, film, and computer games, which make use of medieval and/or early modern themes, characters, or plots. This is a call for papers or panels dealing with any aspect of medieval or Renaissance representation in popular culture. In particular, we would be interested in papers focusing on themes related to the notion of an anniversary, as this conference marks MAPACA’s twenty-fifth anniversary. Additional topics for this area include, but are not limited to the following:

-Modern portrayals of any aspect of Arthurian legends or Shakespeare

-Modern versions or adaptations of any other Medieval or Renaissance writer

-Modern investigations of historical figures such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Richards, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scotts

-Teaching medieval and Renaissance texts to modern students

-Medieval or Renaissance links to fantasy fiction, gaming, comics, video games, etc.


-Medieval or Renaissance Dramas

-The Middle Ages or Renaissance on the Internet

-Renaissance fairs


Panel and Workshop proposals are also welcome.

Submit a 250-word proposal including A/V requests along with a CV or brief bio by June 30, 2014to our online submissions form at

For further information, please contact:
Diana Vecchio
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Mary Behrman

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Co-Chairs Beowulf to Shakespeare


Proceedings of the Shakespeare Graduate Conference 2012-2013

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.192  Friday, 18 April 2014


From:        Sofia Novello <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 18, 2014 at 4:55:29 AM EDT

Subject:    Proceedings of the Shakespeare Graduate Conference 2012-2013


The British Institute of Florence is pleased to announce the online publication of the second volume of the Proceedings of the Shakespeare Graduate Conference on the theme Shakespeare and His Contemporaries: The Notion of Conflict (2012), The Italian Connection (2013). The volume, edited by the Coordinator of the Cultural Programme, Mark Roberts, is a selection of contributions of the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Graduate Conference. The volume can be read at


Sofia Novello

Library Assistant & Co-ordinator of the Shakespeare Graduate Conference

The British Institute of Florence

Palazzo Lanfredini

Lungarno Guicciardini 9

50125 Firenze


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