My parents-in-law are going to the Greek Islands this fall. Today my mother-in-law excitedly told me that they’d be going to Corfu! When it did not register with me, she explained that this island was the setting for The Tempest. I don’t want to say that I told her she was wrong, because I don’t know one way or the other, but I expect the claims were … dubious. The island’s pretty safely a complete fiction, as far as I know.
But then I remembered that The Tempest is supposedly based on a true story, so I thought that maybe in the true story version, Corfu was the island in question. Thus somebody’s played connect the dots with the story and stuck Mr. Shakespeare’s name all over the tourist literature.
Googling around does indeed find me a bunch of references to the island of Corfu as the setting of The Tempest, but they are all “Greek tourist information” in nature, I can’t really find any Shakespeare references.
Getting home from the in-laws house, I consult Asimov. If there was ever an encyclopedic tome of Shakespearean info to consult all between one set of covers, Mr. Asimov was it. No help here. All he tells us is that the island is not identifiable on any map, and at best it would be somewhere between Italy and Africa. He does, by the way, go on to describe how and when all the moons of Uranus, so it’s safe to say that if he had the knowledge, he would have shared it.
Anybody got better research? Does Corfu have any sort of meaningful claim to the title (such as a real-life backstory), or did maybe they say “Hey, we’re an island in between Italy and Africa, let’s brand ourselves as the Tempest island!”
(For the curious, what Asimov does say about the Tempest, without disclaimer, is that it is Shakespeare’s final work that he completed entirely by himself, unlike the Fletcher plays Henry VIII and Two Noble Kinsmen that he merely contributed to. Funny how times have changed, no?)