Year in Review: Top Shakespeare & Beyond stories in 2021

What were some of our most popular stories this year on the Shakespeare & Beyond blog? Posts about love, coffee, and Ian McKellen made the top five. Let’s take a look.

1. 20 Shakespeare quotes about love

The word “love” appears 2,146 times in Shakespeare’s collected works (including a handful of “loves” and “loved”). Add to that 59 instances of “beloved” and 133 uses of “loving” and you’ve got yourself a “whole lotta love.” So, what does Shakespeare have to say about the subject? Read these 20 quotations from the Bard about love in a blog post published just before Valentine’s Day.

2. Spilling the beans: The Islamic history of coffee

Before Farm to Table fellow Neha Vermani explores how European coffeehouses are effectively the descendants of the dynamic early modern Islamic coffeehouse culture. The mid-17th century coffeeshop boom in England had its roots in Islamic culture. As coffee-drinking grew in popularity, so did the depictions of coffee services manned by moors and turbaned Turks – a phenomenon documented in the European art of the period.

3. Digital humanities and Macbeth’s “creepiest” word

You’ll have to click through and read the blog post to learn the creepiest word in Macbeth (according to data analysis), but we’ll reveal that it’s a three-letter word that Shakespeare uses far more often in Macbeth than in his other plays. Unsurprisingly, we published this blog post just before Halloween.

4. Speaking what we feel: Shakespeare’s plague plays

Austin Tichenor explores how the bubonic plague permeates Shakespeare’s plays even while he never wrote a play specifically focused on it. “And yet, as we enter our own 18th month of worrying about COVID-19, we can now recognize throughout Shakespeare’s plays feelings of frustration, rage, listlessness, and despair that — as survivors of our own ongoing pandemic — feel surprisingly familiar,” he writes.

5. Not of an age: The history behind Ian McKellen’s Hamlet

Daniel Blank writes about how the octogenarian actor Ian McKellen’s undertaking of the role of Prince Hamlet (typically played by a much younger man) hearkens back to an earlier age of theatrical performance, and in that sense he is in good company, following in the footsteps of some of history’s most renowned Shakespearean actors.