Where do you turn for answers to pressing questions? You might glance at a weather forecast, the latest political polls, a book of theology or philosophy—or flip a coin. People living in the early modern period likewise had their ways of seeking solutions to life’s puzzles and finding guidance in the face of uncertainty. Besides prayer, a common practice was to turn to astrology and read the heavens for their influences upon human agents. Indeed, it is hard to overstate how pervasive astrological belief was during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At once esoteric and yet imminently practical, Renaissance astrology touched upon all sectors of early modern lives.
Does a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Can we capture the perfumes of the past to savor in the present? This blog post looks at two 21st-century perfumes that try to market their scents by evoking early modern English royalty. These perfumes attempt to transport the wearer through an olfactive time machine to Renaissance England, and to refashion a whole epoch of British history, distilled to its most enduring and distinctive scent: the rose. But how does one create a perfume that can claim to smell of “Tudor” or “Elisabethan” rose?
This hand-colored caricature from 1797, “The Oaken Chest or the Gold Mines of Ireland, a Farce,” satirizes William Henry Ireland and his family in their forgery of the “Shakespeare Papers.” The print is full of delightful details that will make you chuckle. Get an up-close look and learn more about this Folger collection item by clicking through the arrows to see captions that zoom in on different parts of the image.
As the play’s climactic battle approaches, Macbeth is told of his wife’s death. He responds, “She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word.” And then he launches into one of Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquies, about the fleeting and fragile nature of life. Can you correctly order these lines from Act 5, Scene 5?
Shakespeare became the Bard of Avon, the English national poet, in the roughly two hundred years following his death in 1616. During this period, his plays were constantly staged in theaters throughout the British Isles and their colonies—but often in forms that we would be hard pressed to recognize as “Shakespearean.” The Tempest is a particularly interesting case in point.
Check out a mix of innovative online programming and safely socially-distanced in-person performances from Shakespeare companies across the US.