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Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1998, and six others – Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench, who is only on screen for 8 minutes), Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design … Continue reading

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April Books 5) Double Falshood, or, The Distrest Lovers, by William Shakespeare, John Fletcher and L

I read a few weeks back that this play has now been included in the Shakespeare canon by Arden, so was interested to read it; the full text is online thanks to John W. Kennedy, who I remember with fondness … Continue reading

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Fanny Kemble and the lovely land, by Constance Wright

Second paragraph of third chapter: It was a good thing, Fanny told a correspondent in England, that she had avoided reading Mrs. Trollope’s Domestic Manners of the Americans. The subject was always cropping up in conversation, and when asked for … Continue reading

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30 Days of Shakespeare: Day 17 – your favourite speech, revisited

Posting yesterday, I forgot of course the one Shakespeare speech we have written in his own hand, from Sir Thomas More, never performed in his lifetime. We are in London in 1517; anti-immigrant riots are about to break out; Thomas … Continue reading

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30 Days of Shakespeare: Day 17 – your favourite speech

Looking back on my posts so far, I realised that of the plays I know well I have yet to post about Julius Caesar. Fortunately this question is a jolly good excuse to turn to that play: Mark Antony’s funeral … Continue reading

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30 Days of Shakespeare: Day 16 – the first play you saw

I reported in an earlier entry that it was Hamlet, but on reflection that was wrong; it was a school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1979 when I was 12. My friend Padraig played the little Indian boy, … Continue reading

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30 Days of Shakespeare: Day 15 – the first play you read

Romeo and Juliet, taught in my English class in Belfast, the year I turned 12. Oddly enough I am back in Belfast this evening. We performed Act 3 scene 1, and I won a prize for acting Mercutio. The 30 … Continue reading

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30 Days of Shakespeare: Day 14 – your favourite fight scene

It's a close run between this and the play I'm going to talk about tomorrow, but I think the end of Macbeth has it. It combines a strong dramatic closure to the violence of Macbeth's story with the punchline about … Continue reading

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30 Days of Shakespeare: Day 13 – your favourite romantic scene

It's a skeevy play in some ways, but I do like the end of Much Ado About Nothing: Benedick: Which is Beatrice? Beatrice: [Unmasking] I answer to that name. What is your will? Benedick: Do not you love me? Beatrice: … Continue reading

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30 Days of Shakespeare: Day 12 – your favourite scene

Pericles, Act 4 Scene 5, in its entirety. Mytilene: a street before the brothel. Enter, from the brothel, two Gentlemen First Gentleman: Did you ever hear the like? Second Gentleman: No, nor never shall do in such a place as … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 11 – Your least favourite play

No difficulty in choosing here: The Taming of the Shrew. The basic storyline is simply too unpleasant: Katherina, obviously a very unhappy person, is intimidated into submission by a bloke called Petruchio who appears out of nowhere and for no … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 10 – Your favourite history

Just for reference, the histories are generally considered to include: King John Edward III (if counted as Shakespeare) Richard II Henry IV, Part 1 Henry IV, Part 2 Henry V Henry VI, Part 1 Henry VI, Part 2 Henry VI, … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 9 – Your favourite tragedy

Just for reference, the tragedies are generally considered to include: Titus Andronicus Romeo and Juliet Julius Caesar Hamlet Troilus and Cressida Othello King Lear Macbeth Timon of Athens Antony and Cleopatra Coriolanus The Tempest I’ve already written of my love … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 8 – Your favourite comedy

A birthday treat for me, writing on a happy subject. Just for reference, the comedies are generally considered to include: All’s Well That Ends Well As You Like It The Comedy of Errors Love’s Labour’s Lost Measure for Measure The … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 7 – Your favourite clown

It’s a matter of convention, of course, but I tend to find the scenes with Shakespearean fools rather jarring to the course of the play. It can be done well, of course, but it was an intervention that perhaps worked … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 6 – Your favourite villainess

There is a sort of unwritten challenge in this meme to try and pick different plays for each day. I don’t think I’ll manage it, but this question in particular prompted me to delve rather deep. One villainess who operates … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 5 – your favourite villain

It’s Shakespeare’s birthday! Or at least, the 400th anniversary of his death. What better day to celebrate his greatest villain, Richard III? Part of the attraction of Hamlet is that we don’t really understand him, and he doesn’t understand himself. … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 4 – your favourite heroine

This is a close run for me between Portia in The Merchant of Venice and Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well. The latter is less well known – basically the modestly born but intelligent Helena – a qualified doctor, … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 3 – your favourite hero

This is actually quite tricky, because Shakespeare’s most interesting characters are more likely to be villains than heroes, and if heroes they tend not to be all that admirable. I’ve written already about Hamlet and Macbeth, nether of whom really … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 2 – your favourite character

I’m a political animal, and I am fascinated by the way that Shakespeare looks at leadership and kingship, what we might today call governance. Many of his plays are about politicians who get it tragically wrong – Brutus, Richard III, … Continue reading

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30 days of Shakespeare: Day 1 – your favourite play

It’s about time we had some more culture around here. Since it’s the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on Saturday, here is a 30-day meme about the Bard; feel free to chip in or copy as you like. Day #1: … Continue reading

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Lovejoy and Coriolanus

Blogging has been very light round here for the last week or so – I have been travelling a lot, with some unexpected wrinkles and last-minute changes of plan, am behind in bookblogging and also in the middle of three … Continue reading

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The Shakespeare scene from “Time Flies” (1944)

This is a little curio. In the 1944 Tommy Handley film Time Flies, Handley and a couple of New York entertainers played by the wonderful Evelyn Dall and George Moon get zapped back to the Elizabethan era in a time … Continue reading

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August Books 29) Galileo’s Daughter: A Drama of Science, Faith and Love, by Dava Sobel

Galileo was born in 1564, two months before Shakespeare, but he outlived the English playwright by 26 years. Indeed, if Galileo too had died in 1616, he would be remembered as a promising observer and mathematician, killed off shortly after … Continue reading

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The only categorisation of Shakespeare plays that matters

Category A: Henry VI, Part I Henry VI, Part II Taming of the Shrew (arguably) The Two Gentlemen of Verona Edward III The Merchant of Venice Henry IV, Part I Henry V The Merry Wives of Windsor Pericles Cymbeline Henry … Continue reading

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June Books 1) Edward III, possibly by William Shakespeare and others

I think this will be the last Shakespeare play I review, a historical work from the earlier part of his career which is increasingly accepted as part of the canon (available here). It was odd to read it without the … Continue reading

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May Books 29) The Two Noble Kinsmen, by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher

The two noble kinsmen of the title are Palamon and Arcite, kin of the ruler of Thebes, taken as prisoners of war to Athens where they both fall in love with the Duke’s sister. Arcite is paroled, Palamon escapes, and … Continue reading

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May Books 18) Henry VIII, by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher

Here we are, practically at the end of Shakespeare’s writing career, and he goes right back to the beginning with a play about an English King called Henry. It’s an odd one. To get the worst out of the way, … Continue reading

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May Books 13) The Tempest, by William Shakespeare

I was surprised to discover how little I knew of this play. The central character is Prospero, former Duke of Milan and now stranded magician; he manages to capture his former political enemies on his island, and compels one of … Continue reading

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May Books 6) The Winter’s Tale, by William Shakespeare

This is not particularly funny as comedies go (just as Cymbeline is not particularly tragic). The King of Sicilia becomes obsessed with his wife’s relationship with the King of Bohemia; he hounds her to death (apparently) and has their baby … Continue reading

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