Posts By: Shakespeare & Beyond

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 »


Six miniature Shakespeare books to delight and intrigue you

Have you seen some of the smallest books in the Folger Shakespeare Library collection? We’ve been sharing miniature Folger Finds on Instagram throughout the year as these books joined a rotating display of items from the James L. Harner Collection of Miniature Books Pertaining To Shakespeare. Harner’s collection comprises books crafted by individual artists or art… Continue Reading »


Excerpt: The Afterlife of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Why weren’t Shakespeare’s sonnets included in the First Folio? And what was the effect on the way that later readers and critics considered Shakespeare’s total body of work? Jane Kingsley-Smith of Roehampton University, London, explores these questions in the below excerpt from her 2019 book The Afterlife of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, published by Cambridge University Press…. Continue Reading »


Seven Christmas gift ideas for Shakespeare fans

We’ve got seven Shakespeare-themed holiday gift ideas for you, selected from the Folger Shop and all less than $20. Find something for your friends, your family members, or yourself. And if you would like more ideas, see our eight present picks from last year and our five present picks from the year before. Member Holiday… Continue Reading »


Excerpt – Shakespeare’s Church and the Pilgrim Fathers: Commemorating Plymouth Rock in Stratford

Did you know that the Pilgrims have a presence in the church where William Shakespeare was baptized and buried? A stained glass window that bears the inscription, “The Gift of America to Shakespeare’s Church,” shows the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock, along with other scenes. This is just one of the many American connections to… Continue Reading »