Posts By: Haylie Swenson

Shakespeare’s much-maligned toads and frogs

There may not be a more insulted character in all of Shakespeare’s canon than Richard III. The woman he’s wooing, Anne, calls him a hedgehog. In the very next scene, Queen Margaret calls him an “abortive, rooting hog,” a “bottled spider,” and a “poisonous bunch-backed toad” (Richard III I.3.239, 256, 260-261). And this isn’t the… Continue Reading »


“Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen”: Hedgehogs in Shakespeare’s plays and the early modern imagination

While the global population of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) is stable, their numbers have been rapidly declining in the UK for decades, especially in rural areas. This has led to a huge upswell of conservation efforts as people try to protect the UK’s only spiny mammal, and one of these efforts is centered in Shakespeare’s… Continue Reading »



Introducing Wild Things: Animals in early modern life and culture

How many animals have you encountered today, and in what forms? From pets and urban species such as squirrels and sparrows, to meat products and leather, the number may surprise you. Even for those of us who live in human-built spaces, like cities and suburbs, animals and animal bodies are still everyday aspects of human… Continue Reading »