Posts By: Shakespeare & Beyond



Prospero’s epilogue as Shakespeare’s farewell? Excerpt – ‘This is Shakespeare’ by Emma Smith

In this excerpt from her new book, This is Shakespeare (published Mar 31 in the United States), Emma Smith probes the biographical interpretations that readers have layered over Shakespeare’s plays, particularly The Tempest, and how that shapes what we think of as their chronology and the arc of Shakespeare’s life and career. Underpinning these interpretations… Continue Reading »


Teller on his magical ‘Macbeth’ at Folger Theatre

“Our premise is that Macbeth is Shakespeare’s supernatural horror thriller, and should be done as violently and amazingly as a modern supernatural horror movie,” wrote magician Teller (of Penn & Teller) about the memorable 2008 production of Macbeth at Folger Theatre that he and Helen Hayes Award-winning director Aaron Posner co-conceived and directed. The production… Continue Reading »


7 excerpts from Shakespeare-inspired novels

Looking to escape in a good book? Take a break from non-fiction, and read these excerpts from Shakespeare-inspired novels that we’ve featured in the past two years on Shakespeare & Beyond.


“The Taming of the Shrew” on the American stage before “Kiss Me, Kate”: An excerpt from “Shakespeare in a Divided America” by James Shapiro

The Taming of the Shrew is often referred to as one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” because of its controversial depiction of gender roles; last year’s Broadway production of Kiss Me, Kate, the 1948 musical based on The Taming of the Shrew, revived discussions of the sexism at the heart of the story and its 16th-century… Continue Reading »



The madness of Hamlet and King Lear: When psychiatrists used Shakespeare to argue legal definitions of insanity in the courtroom

Well-known Shakespeare characters such as King Lear and Hamlet suffer (or appear to suffer) from madness — and early American psychiatrists took note. Observations drawn from literature began to bleed into courtroom testimony regarding insanity pleas. “From the mid-1840s through about the mid-1860s in the United States, during the first generation of American psychiatry, no… Continue Reading »


Year in review: Top Shakespeare & Beyond stories of 2019

What were some of our most popular stories this year? Let’s take a look. Recipe adaptations and blog posts about food culture We published several recipes in conjunction with First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the Americas (Jan 19 – Mar 31, 2019), including one for pirate botanist William Hughes’s hot chocolate, which… Continue Reading »


Top 10 Shakespeare Unlimited podcast episodes of 2019

Our top Shakespeare Unlimited podcast episodes from 2019 feature interviews with authors, directors, actors, and scholars. Happy listening! 1. Deborah Harkness: A Discovery of Witches In 1994, Deborah Harkness was doing research at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library when she stumbled across the Book of Soyga, a long-lost manuscript treatise on magic that once belonged to… Continue Reading »