“This is the English, not the Turkish court”: Ottomans in Shakespeare’s Henriad

In Shakespeare’s Henriad – Richard II (1595), Henry IV Part I (1596), Henry IV Part II (1597), and Henry V (1599) – English Christian characters frequently employ negative Turkish tropes when criticizing each other’s corrupt political agendas. However, these tropes differ from the more positive characterizations of the Ottomans found in English chronicles of Turkish history. By… Continue Reading »


What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?

You’d think I’d have a better answer to the question, “What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?” — but it’s complicated. I have favorite lines, of course; favorite speeches, favorite characters. But as beautiful and complicated as Shakespeare can be on the page, for me he lives and dies on the stage, and like all rich banquets,… Continue Reading »


A closer look at pregnancy, midwifery, and breastfeeding in the Tudor period

What was everyday life like for women throughout Tudor society? Elizabeth Norton, a historian of the queens of England and the Tudor period, shares stories on the Folger’s Shakespeare Unlimited podcast about the restrictions, but also some of the surprising freedoms, that touched these women’s lives. The excerpt below from our Shakespeare Unlimited interview with… Continue Reading »



Up Close: Lady Macbeth, America, and the stain of slavery

In a famous scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the sleep-walking Lady Macbeth desperately attempts to scrub her hands clean of the (invisible) blood stains from the murders committed by her and her husband. “Out, damned spot, out, I say!” she says, as her gentlewoman and a doctor secretly observe. “What, will these hands ne’er be clean?”… Continue Reading »


Excerpt – “A Short History of Shakespeare in Performance” by Richard Schoch

How have directors sought to make Shakespeare productions relevant to contemporary political issues? What is it about these plays that makes them so politically resonant? Richard Schoch (Queen’s University Belfast) explores these questions in the excerpt below, taken from A Short History of Shakespeare in Performance, which was recently published as part of Cambridge University… Continue Reading »