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William Shakespeare

How William Shakespeare (1564-1616), son of a provincial glover, became the world's most famous literary icon, is a story that's been told many times. Our appetite for biographies of Shakespeare is apparently insatiable: new lives of Shakespeare are always being written, as if we are still trying to find the key to understand the operation of his genius and the source of his literary immortality. This Great Writers theme focuses on the works themselves, with lectures, ebooks, and supporting material to find new angles and sources of critical analysis and enjoyment. The biographical facts of Shakespeare's life can be easily recounted. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, a market town in the English midlands, in 1564: his father was a glover. We know little about his education but he almost certainly attended the town grammar school where he would have learned the standard Latin literary and rhetorical curriculum: we see some Elizabethan classroom staples in The Merry Wives of Windsor. There is no record of Shakespeare having attended university. He married Anne Hathaway in 1582, and their daughter Susanna was born in 1583, followed by twins Hamnet and Judith in 1585. By the...
Read the essay: William Shakespeare by Emma Smith
# Title Description Contributor
1 The Death Masks of Macbeth

In this short talk Professor Simon Palfrey explores the deathly afterlives of Shakespeare’s ‘...

Simon Palfrey
2 Shakespeare, Mind and World

Tom MacFaul discusses how Shakespeare’s age thought about thinking. In particular, he looks at...

Tom MacFaul
3 Shakespeare's Animals

Why are animals everywhere in Shakespeare's language? Only two actual animals definitely appear...

Tom MacFaul
4 Venus and Adonis

Professor Katherine Duncan Jones, Senior Research Fellow, Somerville College, gives a talk on...

Katherine Duncan Jones
5 Memorialising Shakespeare: The First Folio and other elegies

Emma Smith (Professor of English Literature, Oxford), gives a talk on Shakespeare memorials. Ben...

Emma Smith
6 Shakespeare and the Stage

Professor Tiffany Stern gives a talk on William Shakespeare and how his plays were performed in...

Tiffany Stern
7 The Tempest - Our revels now are ended: Conveying Shakespeare's meaning

The actor Dylan Townley talks about the language of Shakespeare. He describes how understanding...

Dylan Townley
8 The language of Shakespeare

Actors and the director talk about how they have approached and worked with their student...

Kate O'Connor
9 Teaching Shakespeare in Schools

A teacher talks about how she teaches Shakespeare in school, using video clips and references...

Joyti Chandegra
10 16.To Shakespeare and Beyond: a panel discussion.

Cultural Connections discussion panel Casandra Ash, Peter Kirwan, Jose Perez Diaz and Emma Smith...

Cassandra Ash, Peter Kirwan, José Pérez Díez, Emma Smith
11 The Tempest: Prospero

Actor Dylan Townley talks with director Archie Cornish about the character Prospero. They...

Archie Cornish, Dylan Townley
12 The Tempest: For you am I this patient log-man

The director and actors talk about the log-scene in The Tempest and how they interpret and...

Archie Cornish, Dylan Townley
13 The Tempest: Direction and interpretation

Director Archie Cornish and actor Dylan Townley - Prospero - talk about adapting, directing and...

Archie Cornish, Dylan Townley
14 Understanding Shakespeare

The actor Nick Lyons talks about the challenge of the language barrier and how he dealt with it...

Nick Lyons
15 Two Gentlemen of Verona: The view from the Director

The director talks about how she adapted the script and directed the student Shakespeare...

Kate O'Connor
16 The Tempest: Our revels now are ended

The famous Shakespeare scene from The Tempest, performed by actors from an Oxford student drama...

Dylan Townley
17 Acting Masterclass: "Lend me your ears"

A second Masterclass on how Shakespeare spins rhetoric for the actor, with Sam Leith, journalist...

Gregory Doran, Sam Leith
18 Acting Masterclass: 'Pyramus, you begin'

A practical Masterclass with Greg Doran from the Royal Shakespeare Company looking at what clues...

Gregory Doran
19 Genre (pt.1)

Video podcast with Dr Jane Rickard, The University of Leeds. Part 1 (of 2) + discussion forum...

Jane Rickard
# Title Description Contributor
1 A Midsummer Night's Dream

This lecture on A Midsummer Night's Dream uses modern and early modern understandings of...

Emma Smith
2 Out of Silence 1: William Shakespeare

From the Silence Hub Network. Professor Alexandra Harris discusses Shakespeare's sonnet 23,...

Alexandra Harris, Kate McLoughlin
3 Shakespeare Lectures

Dr. Ralph W. Schlosser's lectures on the life and work of William Shakespeare. Recorded in 1965...

Dr. Ralph W. Schlosser
4 1594: Shakespeare's most important year

In the summer of 1594 William Shakespeare decided to invest around £50 to become a shareholder...

Bart van Es
5 The Magic of Shakespeare

This lecture will celebrate Shakespeare's immortality on the exact 400th anniversary of his...

Jonathan Bate
6 Shakespeare and the Victorians

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Professor of English Literature, Oxford, gives a talk for Shakespeare...

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
7 The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Professor Emma Smith gives the last of her 2017 Shakespeare lectures on his early comedy, Two...

Emma Smith
8 Henry VI, Part 2

Professor Emma Smith continues her Approaching Shakespeare series with a 2017 lecture on the...

Emma Smith
9 The Merry Wives of Windsor

Professor Emma Smith lectures on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Emma Smith
10 All's Well That Ends Well

Professor Emma Smith lectures on Shakespeare’s comedy All's Well That Ends Well.

Emma Smith
11 Cymbeline

Professor Emma Smith continues her Approaching Shakespeare series with a lecture on one of...

Emma Smith
12 Timon of Athens

Emma Smith finishes her Approaching Shakespeare series with a lecture on the play Timon of...

Emma Smith
13 Love's Labour's Lost

Emma Smith continues her Approaching Shakespeare series with a lecture on the play Love's Labour...

Emma Smith
14 Julius Caesar

This lecture on Julius Caesar discusses structure, tone, and politics by focusing on the cameo...

Emma Smith
15 Romeo and Juliet

This lecture on Romeo and Juliet tackles the issue of the spoiler-chorus, in an already-too-...

Emma Smith
16 Coriolanus

This lecture takes up a detail from Shakespeare’s late Roman tragedy Coriolanus to ask about the...

Emma Smith
17 Shakespeare and Voice

Linda Gates, Professor of Voice at Northwestern University (USA) discusses how Shakespeare'...

Linda Gates
18 Shakespeare and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

Professor Charlotte Brewer introduces the methodology behind the creation of the OED and how...

Charlotte Brewer
19 The Comedy of Errors

Lecture 12 in the Approaching Shakespeare series asks how seriously we can take the farcical...

Emma Smith
20 Twelfth Night

The seventh Approaching Shakespeare lecture takes a minor character in Twelfth Night - Antonio...

Emma Smith
21 Henry V

The second lecture in the Approaching Shakespeare series looks at King Henry V, and asks whether...

Emma Smith
22 The Merchant of Venice

This lecture on The Merchant of Venice discusses the ways the play's personal relationships...

Emma Smith
23 Henry IV part 1

Like generations of theatre-goers, this lecture concentrates on the (large) figure of Sir John...

Emma Smith
24 Much Ado About Nothing

Emma Smith asks why the characters are so quick to believe the self-proclaimed villain Don John...

Emma Smith
25 Richard II

Lecture eight in the Approaching Shakespeare series asks the question that structures Richard II...

Emma Smith
26 Antony and Cleopatra

What kind of tragedy is this play, with its two central figures rather than a singular hero? The...

Emma Smith
27 The Winter's Tale

How we can make sense of a play that veers from tragedy to comedy and stretches credulity in its...

Emma Smith
28 Measure for Measure

The third Approaching Shakespeare lecture, on Measure for Measure, focuses on the vexed question...

Emma Smith
29 Macbeth

In this fourth Approaching Shakespeare lecture the question is one of agency: who or what makes...

Emma Smith
30 King John

At the heart of King John is the death of his rival Arthur: this fifteenth lecture in the...

Emma Smith
31 Hamlet

The fact that father and son share the same name in Hamlet is used to investigate the play'...

Emma Smith
32 Richard III

In this thirteenth lecture in the Approaching Shakespeare series the focus is on the...

Emma Smith
33 The Tempest

That the character of Prospero is a Shakespearean self-portrait is a common reading of The...

Emma Smith
34 As You Like It

Asking 'what happens in As You Like It', this lecture considers the play's...

Emma Smith
35 Othello

Othello - First in Emma Smith's Approaching Shakespeare lecture series; looking at the...

Emma Smith
36 King Lear

Showing how generations of critics - and Shakespeare himself - have rewritten the ending of King...

Emma Smith
37 Titus Andronicus

Focusing in detail on one particular scene, and on critical responses to it, this sixth...

Emma Smith
38 Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Pericles has been on the margins of the Shakespearean canon: this fourteenth lecture in the...

Emma Smith
39 Taming of the Shrew

Emma Smith uses evidence of early reception and from more recent productions to discuss the...

Emma Smith
40 Why should we study Elizabethan Theatre?

Professor Tiffany Stern of University College, Oxford, discusses her current research and...

Tiffany Stern, Ilana Lassman
41 Acting Masterclass: 'Pyramus, you begin'

A practical Masterclass looking at what clues Shakespeare puts into the verse for the actor....

Gregory Doran
42 Why should we study Shakespeare?

Dr Emma Smith of Hertford College, Oxford, discusses her current research and proposes why we...

Emma Smith, Ilana Lassman
43 Acting Masterclass: "Lend me your ears"

A practical Masterclass with Greg Doran from the Royal Shakespeare Company on how Shakespeare...

Gregory Doran, Sam Leith
44 The Bodleian Shakespeare: A treasure lost... and regained

From the 2010 Alumni Weekend. Emma Smith reveals how Oxford University mobilised Alumni support...

Emma Smith
45 Shakespeare and Medieval Romance

Professor Helen Cooper, University of Cambridge, speaks about the continuities between the...

Helen Cooper
46 Shakespeare and the Stage

Professor Tiffany Stern gives a talk on William Shakespeare and how his plays were performed in...

Tiffany Stern
# Essay Title Description Contributor
1 Renaissance Theatre

When John Brayne built the Red Lion Theatre in London’s Whitechapel in 1569, he could hardly...

Emma Smith
2 Early Modern Drama on the Page and Stage

Many books and university courses, trying to compensate for a history of the neglect or mistrust...

Emma Smith
3 Elizabethan and Jacobean Theatres

Elizabethan and Jacobean London contained a myriad of playhouses, indoors and outdoors. What...

Kate O'Connor
4 Why Shakespeare Was Shakespeare

Since the release of the film 'Anonymous' in 2011, the odds have increased dramatically of being...

Kate O'Connor
5 William Shakespeare

How William Shakespeare (...

Emma Smith
6 English Renaissance Timeline: Some Historical and Cultural Dates

This list offers an overview of some historical and cultural dates from the English Renaissance...

Kate O'Connor
# Title Description Author
1 On 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

This essay on Shakespeare's play 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is by Arthur Machen, and forms...

Arthur Machen
2 The Sonnets William Shakespeare
3 Shakespeare and Stage Costume

Text upon which this Online Edition is Based: “Shakespeare and Stage Costume,” in The...

Oscar Wilde
4 The Tragedy of Richard the Third: with the Landing of Earle Richmond, and the Battell at Bosworth Field.

ebook version of The Tragedy of Richard the Third: with the Landing of Earle Richmond, and the...

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
5 A MIDSOMMER Nights Dreame.

ebook version of A MIDSOMMER Nights Dreame.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
6 The second Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Good Duke HVMFREY.

ebook version of The second Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Good Duke HVMFREY.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
7 Introduction to Shakespeare's plays, containing an essay on oratoryOrator

ebook version of Introduction to Shakespeare's plays, containing an essay on oratoryOrator

Gentleman, Francis, 1728-1784.
8 MEASVRE, For Measure.

ebook version of MEASVRE, For Measure.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
9 The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, Containing his Death: and the Coronation of King Henry the Fift.

ebook version of The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, Containing his Death: and the Coronation...

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
10 THE TRAGEDIE OF MACBETH.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF MACBETH.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
11 THE TEMPEST.

ebook version of THE TEMPEST.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
12 The Comedie of Errors.

ebook version of The Comedie of Errors.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
13 The Winters Tale.

ebook version of The Winters Tale.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
14 THE TRAGEDIE OF Troylus and Cressida.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF Troylus and Cressida.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
15 The Life of Henry the Fift.

ebook version of The Life of Henry the Fift.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
16 THE TRAGEDIE OF KING LEAR.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF KING LEAR.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
17 The Tragedy of Coriolanus.

ebook version of The Tragedy of Coriolanus.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
18 The life and death of King Iohn.

ebook version of The life and death of King Iohn.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
19 The first Part of Henry the Sixt.

ebook version of The first Part of Henry the Sixt.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
20 THE TRAGEDIE OF IVLIVS CAESAR.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF IVLIVS CAESAR.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
21 The Plays of William Shakespeare as published in the first folio of 1623

ebook version of The Plays of William Shakespeare as published in the first folio of 1623

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
22 Loues Labour's lost.

ebook version of Loues Labour's lost.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
23 The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus.

ebook version of The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
24 The life and death of King Richard the Second.

ebook version of The life and death of King Richard the Second.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
25 The Merchant of Venice.

ebook version of The Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
26 The Famous History of the Life of King HENRY the Eight.

ebook version of The Famous History of the Life of King HENRY the Eight.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
27 The third Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Duke of YORKE.

ebook version of The third Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Duke of YORKE.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
28 The tragedie of HAMLET, Prince of Denmarke.

ebook version of The tragedie of HAMLET, Prince of Denmarke.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
29 The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of HENRY Sirnamed HOT-SPVRRE.

ebook version of The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of HENRY Sirnamed...

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
30 THE TRAGEDIE OF CYMBELINE.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF CYMBELINE.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
31 THE Merry Wiues of Windsor.

ebook version of THE Merry Wiues of Windsor.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
32 ALL'S Well, that Ends Well.

ebook version of ALL'S Well, that Ends Well.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
33 THE LIFE OF TYMON OF ATHENS.

ebook version of THE LIFE OF TYMON OF ATHENS.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
34 THE TRAGEDIE OF Anthonie, and Cleopatra.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF Anthonie, and Cleopatra.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
35 THE TRAGEDIE OF Othello, the Moore of Venice.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF Othello, the Moore of Venice.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
36 Much adoe about Nothing.

ebook version of Much adoe about Nothing.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
37 THE TRAGEDIE OF ROMEO and IVLIET

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF ROMEO and IVLIET

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
38 An essay on the character of Hamlet: As performed by Mr. Henderson, at the Theatre Royal in the Hay-Market.

ebook version of An essay on the character of Hamlet: As performed by Mr. Henderson, at the...

Pilon, Frederick, 1750-1788.
39 Twelfe Night, Or what you will.

ebook version of Twelfe Night, Or what you will.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
40 As you Like it.

ebook version of As you Like it.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
41 An essay on the learning of Shakespeare: addressed to Joseph Cradock, Esq; The second edition, with large additions. By Richard Farmer, ...

ebook version of An essay on the learning of Shakespeare: addressed to Joseph Cradock, Esq; The...

Farmer, Richard, 1735-1797.
42 THE Taming of the Shrew.

ebook version of THE Taming of the Shrew.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
43 THE Two Gentlemen of Verona.

ebook version of THE Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
44 Shakespeare, Bacon and the Great Unknown

'Shakespeare, Bacon and the Great Unknown' by the literary critic Andrew Lang.

Andrew Lang
45 Shakespeare and Music Christopher Wilson
46 'Spenser, Johnson, and Shakspeare'

Chapter taken from Issac Disraeli's 'Curiosities of Literature'. Edited, with Memoir and Notes,...

Issac Disraeli
47 The Preface to Shakespeare

'The preface to Shakespeare' by Samuel Johnson. Together with selected notes on some of the...

Samuel Johnson
48 'A Talk for Twelfth Night'

This essay on Shakespeare's play 'Twelfth Night' by Arthur Machen forms chapter fifteen of the...

Arthur Machen
49 'Spenser, Jonson, and Shakespeare'

Chapter taken from Issac Disraeli's collection of essay entitled 'Curiosities of Literature',...

Issac Disraeli
50 Venus and Adonis William Shakespeare
51 The Rape of Lucrece William Shakespeare
52 The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark William Shakespeare
# Resource Title Description Contributor
1 Shakespeare's Birthplace2
2 Shakespeare's Globe

By Aldo Ardetti (Own work), October 2007.
[GFDL (...

3 Shakespeare's Birthplace

William Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England.
7...

4 Second Globe Theatre

Globe Theatre - second Globe Theatre, from Hollar's View of London (1647).
The...

# Resource Title Description Contributor
1 Commerce and Culture, Lecture 2: Shakespeare's Theater ... Paul A. Cantor
2 Science of Shakespeare (visualisations)

Diagrams (static and moving) showing various ways of illustrating speaker turns, speech lengths...

Patrick Lockley
3 Open Source Shakespeare

The Open Source Shakespeare website includes the 1864 Globe Edition of the complete works.

...