Posts Tagged: Shakespeare

Portraits in Hamlet: ‘Look here upon this picture, and on this’

One of the oldest theatrical legends about Shakespeare is that he played the ghost in Hamlet. We know that Shakespeare was both an actor and a playwright, but we have no idea whether he acted this small, but memorable role. Yet if he did, he certainly would have enjoyed the “closet scene” between Hamlet and… Continue Reading »


King and Country: Shakespeare treasures from the Folger

A special exhibition of rare quartos, promptbooks, and other treasures from the Folger collection accompanies the Royal Shakespeare Company staging of King and Country: Shakespeare’s Great Cycle of Kings at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York this month.


Quiz: Shakespeare’s Fools

Shakespeare’s plays are filled with fools like the ones pictured above, from Touchstone in As You Like It, to Feste in Twelfth Night—as well as characters in strong comedic roles, such as the Gravedigger, in Hamlet, or Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing. Can you match the name of the fool to the line that he… Continue Reading »


Quiz: Can you identify the Shakespeare play by only the first line?

Test your Shakespeare knowledge and take our quiz! Can you identify the Shakespeare quiz by the first line? See if you can identify the play with only the first line to go by. Be warned, it gets harder as you progress. To find the text of all the plays for free online, visit www.folgerdigitaltexts.org. “Two… Continue Reading »


Cervantes, the Moors of Spain, and the Moor of Venice

Of all Shakespeare’s plays, Othello is the one that is most frequently compared to Spanish literature in the age of Cervantes. This is due in large part to the role that jealousy plays in driving Othello to kill Desdemona. We might recall Iago’s famous warning: “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; / It is the… Continue Reading »


Life of an icon: Shakespeare as playwright and poet

Fifty of the most important manuscripts and printed works related to Shakespeare’s life and career are on display in the Folger exhibition Shakespeare, Life of an Icon, curated by Heather Wolfe. Some of these documents mark important milestones for Shakespeare as a playwright and a poet. Others offer insight into how his work was received… Continue Reading »


Teller and The Tempest: Magic in Shakespeare’s time

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the magician Prospero conjures up a storm, charms his daughter to sleep, and uses his power to control Ariel and other spirits. Is this magic for real, or is Prospero pulling off elaborate illusions? Fascinated by this question and by Prospero’s relinquishing of magic at the play’s end, Teller (of the magic/comedy… Continue Reading »


Documenting the life of an icon: Shakespeare at 400 years

Shakespeare, Life of an Icon, the first of four special exhibitions at the Folger Shakespeare Library in 2016, offers a fresh and intimate perspective on William Shakespeare as the London playwright, bestselling poet, and man from Stratford. This once-in-a-lifetime assemblage shares the documents that show us Shakespeare the man, four hundred years after his death.


Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, and the president’s assassination

Growing up on the frontier, Abraham Lincoln had few books to read in his early days—but among them were the works of Shakespeare, which Lincoln cherished throughout his life. The actor Joseph Jefferson later told the story of how Lincoln, as a young lawyer, successfully defended his father’s Illinois theater when a religious revival threatened… Continue Reading »


Hamlet wasn’t always the prince with the common touch

When we think about Shakespeare on the stage we usually imagine two different historical moments: ‘then’ and ‘now’. ‘Then’ is Shakespeare’s lifetime, when Richard Burbage, the original Hamlet, first spoke ‘To be or not to be’ from the stage of the Globe Theatre on London’s Bankside. ‘Now’ is the present moment, whether for audiences at… Continue Reading »