I Don’t Even Know What “Inspired By” Means Anymore

I like when they say a movie is inspired by a true story. That’s kind of silly. “Hey, Mitch, did you hear that story about that lady who drove her car into the lake with her kids and they all drowned?” “Yeah, I did, and you know what – that inspires me to write a movie about a gorilla!” – Mitch Hedberg

I’m reminded of that joke whenever I see a list like this Top Ten Novels Inspired By Shakespeare. What will their criteria be, I wonder? Are we talking about modern retellings, or prequel stories, or alternate timelines or what?

Having read the list, I have no idea.

Four of them take their title directly from a Shakespeare play.  How much each novel then does with Shakespeare varies wildly – Aldous Huxley has his Shakespeare-quoting savage, for example, but does Somerset Maugham’s Cakes and Ale have anything to do with Twelfth Night other than the title and apparently a bit of hedonism?

One tells the story of the “real” Richard III and attempts to separate it from Shakespeare’s version.

One (Thousand Acres) is something of a “half retelling” of King Lear, which keeps almost identically to the premise (an old father, before retiring, divides up his land between his three daughters) but then takes a sharp left turn into whole new territory.

I think that for all of those we can at least say the author had some conscious connection to Shakespeare, even if it was just “I like that quote, I’m going to use it as the title of my book.”

But The Talented Mr. Ripley? Really? A story about a guy that wants something the other guy has, so he kills him and takes his place, then starts killing other people to keep the secret.  That makes it Macbeth? Do we have any reason to think that the author intended the comparison, or are we just guessing?

I don’t know what to do with Moby Dick. I don’t know enough about Melville. Did he deliberately write it to parallel a Shakespearean tragedy, as several essays I googled claim?

Shakespeare saves lives. Find out how.

RIP Bob Hoskins

I’d be willing to bet that when you show a picture of Bob Hoskins around, most people think Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Hook or maybe even Super Mario Brothers.  But he also knocked Iago out of the park back in 1981, before any of that kid stuff.

Bob Hoskins has died at the age of 71, from pneumonia.  Perhaps Mr. Hoskins and the recently departed Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who also had a shot at Iago, can compare notes with the Master himself.

Flights of angels, Mr. Hoskins.

This year,Shakespeare is Universal is looking to prove that Shakespeare makes life better by donating money to support cancer research. Last year’s shirt was a big success and we’re looking forward to shattering our previous goal, all in the name of charity. Please take a moment, visit the site and see if I can’t convince you to show the world your love for Shakespeare and support a great cause. Not for you? Fair enough – but that’s what those Share buttons are for! Don’t leave without telling your friends and family. Surely you know somebody that would love one of our limited edition shirts. Available this year in multiple styles including long sleeve, v-neck and women’s styles. Multiple colors available!

Tales of a Fourth Grade Shakespeare (Part 2)

So with the monologues done I asked whether the kids wanted to get up and act with each other, and of course got a rousing response.

A student had asked what Shakespeare’s funniest play was, because it sounded like all he wrote was death and tragedy. So we talked for a bit about Midsummer, and I learned that maybe six kids in the class were part of the Midsummer that I did last year.

So I pulled out as our first scene the opening of Midsummer.  I asked for a volunteer for Hermia, and a boy’s hand shot up.  “Really?” I asked, “You want to play the girl?”  He assured me that he did, and I let him. I explained that this was excellent, because in Shakespeare’s time all the girl roles would have been played by boys anyway.

I got a Theseus, Lysander and Demetrius (we were doing an edited scene with no Helena or Egeus) and I broke it down for them, standing behind the line with my hand over respective heads.  “YOU are Lysander.  YOU are in love with HERMIA over here.” Laughter because it’s both boys.  “YOU are DEMETRIUS, and YOU also love HERMIA.”  More laughter. “Hermia’s father has decided that he wants her to marry Demetrius, but she loves Lysander.  So they’ve come to YOU, THESEUS, who’s the law around these parts.  You get to decide stuff like this, and if you think any heads need to come off, then *eek* off come some heads.”  While they are performing I notice the teacher leans over and whispers something to Hermia, who starts speaking in a squeaky high voice, which gets more laughter from the audience. I immediately grab for my Complete Works with the thought of showing them some of Bottom’s scenes.  But then I decide against it, that I simply do not have the time to change gears like that.  Another case of *I* know what it would sound like in *my* head, but that doesn’t mean it’ll translate to reality.

They enjoy this scene, but there’s not a lot of action to it. This is just the warm up.  I tell them,  “I think it’s time to get out the swords.” 🙂

I’d had no interaction with the teacher at all before coming up with this lesson plan, so I had no idea what she’d say about swords of any kind.  So I went to the local hardware store and picked up some lengths of this foam pipe insulation stuff, cut it in half, then wrapped some duct tape around one end as a handle.  Sure it was pretty floppy for a sword, but it gave them something to brandish and I knew that nobody was going to take it in the eye.

I bring out Gertrude’s bedchamber scene.  One death to start.  I ask who wants to be Queen, and get a volunteer. I ask for a Polonius, saying “You get to die.” Lot of volunteers. I ask for a Hamlet saying, “You get to kill Polonius.”  I actually offer Hamlet here as a prize, letting the teacher pick the student she feels has earned it.

I explain the scene in terms appropriate for this age group and attention span.  “Hamlet’s dad died.  Worse, his mom married his uncle.”  <beat, as that sinks in>  “Yeah, that’s all kinds of messed up. Hamlet’s the prince, and everybody knows, the king dies, the prince becomes king, right? Not so fast, Hamlet. Hamlet’s away at college, so he comes back to collect his crown and guess what? Mom’s already remarried. Worse, she’s remarried her husband’s brother.  Yes, ewww is appropriate here. So Hamlet and Claudius, that’s his name, Claudius, they do not get along at all. In fact, there was just a show at the castle and Hamlet completely ruined it, totally upset Claudius, he stormed out all mad.  So now Gertrude, the queen, your Hamlet’s mom, and your job is to smack some sense into your son. You’re still his mother, and you still expect him to listen to you.  Now you, Polonius, you know that Hamlet’s been acting a little crazy lately” (ASIDE TO AUDIENCE: “He has no idea!”) “and he’s come to the Queen’s room to protect her in case Hamlet does anything strange” (ASIDE TO AUDIENCE: “It’s not going to end well for him!”) “Meanwhile Hamlet, you just don’t really care about any of these people. You’re mad at your mom because she married that guy, and you’re mad at Polonius because he works for that guy, and you’re just in general having a bad day so you don’t really care about what your mom has to say to you.  Ready?  And….action!”

Best scene yet. The chosen Hamlet is the first kid to actually attempt to act.  It’s funny, I’ve written into the stage directions that Gertrude starts sitting, stands up to yell at Hamlet, and then he forces her back down. Hamlet gives her a shove on the shoulder and she flings herself to the ground, I love it. From the ground she yells “Will thou murder me?” Polonius yells “help, help!” and gets run through with a piece of foam pipe insulation.  Great stuff.

For fun we do that scene again with a different set of kids. I encourage them, now that they’ve seen it, to play it differently. Most importantly to play it big and bold.  When you’re angry, be angry like you want to kill somebody. And when you die, give it a minute.  Work the stage.  Most people in Shakespeare who died get a few lines before they go, so work with it.

Well my new Polonius takes that to heart, bursting forth from behind the arras and staggering out into the middle of the classroom before keeling over. This causes the student that he has landed on to start kicking him.  “Don’t kick dead Polonius,” I tell him. But this then gives me an opportunity to talk about exactly how Hamlet defiled Polonius’ body. They all agree that this is both gross and also not nice, and I can see that they start to get a clue about what Hamlet’s all about as I tell them, “Well, that’s kind of the whole point. Hamlet starts out as the good guy, but as the play goes on and the stuff that happens around him it gets darker and darker and he gets crazier and crazier and starts killing people.”

We end on the fight scene from Romeo and Juliet, which gives me a chance to put swords in the hands of four kids at once (Benvolio, Mercutio, Tybalt, Romeo).  Again I explain the context, how Romeo is only one who knows that he has joined the houses and doesn’t want to fight, and how Tybalt and Mercutio see that as him being a coward and so on.  The best part came when I got to choreograph (for lack of a better word) the fight itself.  “Mercutio, Tybalt, fight!  Have at it!” They start whacking at each other with foam swords.  “Benvolio!  Romeo!  Try to break it up!  Beat down their swords!” Enter more foam, whacking at foam.  “Now, Romeo, get right in Mercutio’s way!  Hold him back, get in the way of his sword!”  Romeo does so. “Tybalt!  You’re the bad guy, take your cheap shot! Mercutio’s arms are held, stick him with your sword!” Cute moment as they all pause and look at me as if to say, “But that’s dirty fighting, his sword’s not up.”  “That’s the whole point, you’re the bad guy, take your cheap shot!  Now, away in triumph!”  For Tybalt’s part he actually did strut away in triumph, gotta love that.

I switch out my cast (since we are running out of time and some kids have not been up yet) and let the scene continue. “Romeo, it’s your fault your best friend is dead. You tried to be the peacekeeper and it didn’t work. Here comes the guy that killed Mercutio, what are you gonna do about it?” My new Romeo ends Tybalt pretty quickly, and Benvolio urges him to flee.

That’s all the time I had, so I had to leave Julius Caesar and Henry V behind. Which I think was the right move, because I am well aware that I am still setting the bar very high at this age (and the kind of time frame we’re talking about). With no rehearsals, prep time or do-overs, it’s a lot to ask to give an nine year old Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral. He’ll be lucky to read through it. I would have loved to give a lesson in how the crowd gets manipulated, but I expect they only would have gotten it from what I said, not from the text.  Same with Henry V.  I get shivers down my spine every time I hear that speech, but I’m well aware that the kids almost certainly will not. At least, not yet.

My goal as always has been to introduce the material and to take the scary edge off.  These kids, at nine or ten years old, have now gotten more Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Midsummer, Taming of the Shrew and even a little Coriolanus. That’s more than most of their fellow students will have by the time they get to high school. If any of them develop an appreciation for the material that makes them want to go experience more?  Mission accomplished.

This year,Shakespeare is Universal is looking to prove that Shakespeare makes life better by donating money to support cancer research. Last year’s shirt was a big success and we’re looking forward to shattering our previous goal, all in the name of charity. Please take a moment, visit the site and see if I can’t convince you to show the world your love for Shakespeare and support a great cause. Not for you? Fair enough – but that’s what those Share buttons are for! Don’t leave without telling your friends and family. Surely you know somebody that would love one of our limited edition shirts. Available this year in multiple styles including long sleeve, v-neck and women’s styles. Multiple colors available!

Tales of a Fourth Grade Shakespeare (Part 1)

So this time I got to return to the fourth grade for a rare “Part 2” lecture on Shakespeare.  I first visited my daughter’s class back in February, and they were by far the best grade level I’ve yet dealt with. Just the right combination of academics, attention span and politeness. Too young and it’s too hard for them to understand the material and/or pay attention when other kids are reading.  Too old and it’s harder to keep their attention, they want to show how cool they are by ignoring the speaker.

What to do now that I’ve run through my usual array of props and biographical stories?  Performance!

I brought with me a selection of monologues (Midsummer, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Coriolanus, Hamlet, etc…) but more importantly some scenes to act (opening of Midsummer, Gertrude’s bedchamber, Romeo/Tybalt/Mercutio fight, Brutus/Antony speak at Caesar’s funeral, etc…) and some props — my Yorick skull (of course), but also some homemade swords I made from foam pipe insulation.

So, the kids remember me and are happy to dig back into Shakespeare. I’m pleasantly surprised by the reaction I get.  They are embarking on a school play (not Shakespeare) and the whole reason I’m here is to encourage them to get up out of their seats and practice reading a script in front of an audience.

I take volunteers.  We start with the opening to Romeo and Juliet, since I figure they’ll all recognize it (and they do). Of course, after the student reads it, I ask who understands it and nobody does.  They get that there’s two families that don’t like each other and that a boy and girl fall in love, but they could just as easily be getting that from their knowledge of the play. So I read it again to them, explaining that this is a gigantic spoiler, that right here in the first lines of the play Shakespeare has already told us that they’re going to die. They find that quite curious.

Then I let somebody try Hamlet’s Yorick speech.  I set the stage for when and why this speech occurs, but it’s obvious that at this age they’re going to be more impressed with “The gravedigger is getting rid of the old bones to make room for new ones” than any sort of existential crisis poor Yorick is going through.  So I let the next student start the speech, but then I stop him and break out the skull for him to talk to.

Again, at the end, nobody really *gets* it.  I ask if they recognize anything. I read “borne me on his back a thousand times” and ask if anybody knows what that means. I tell them that there’s pretty good odds that some of them have done this recently.  One kid ventures, “piggy back rides?” and I tell him, “EXACTLY!” and go on to talk about growing up prince and having your own personal clown to play with.

I let one of the girls try Kate’s speech from the end of Taming of the Shrew. Again, the fun for me is in setting up the scene.  “Ok, you’re Kate, and you’re a shrew.  Know what a shrew is? Not a very nice girl. All the boys don’t want to have anything to do with her, which is fine with her because she doesn’t want anything to do with them either! But her father is trying to marry her off, and she’s having none of it. Every boy that he brings into the house, she throws things at him until he runs away. Until along comes this new guy, Petruchio, who says he loves a challenge and marries her anyway. Because that’s how it worked back them, you as the girl didn’t get to say who you wanted to marry. If your dad says you’re marrying this guy, well, you married that guy.  The whole play is about these two fighting over who is going to back down first.  But at the very end a funny thing happens. They’re at a wedding, and there’s three husbands hanging out at a table comparing who has the best wife. So the first husband tells a servant, ‘Go tell my wife to come here, I need her.’ Servant leaves, comes back, says ‘Your wife says what do you need?’ and the whole wedding says OOOOOO!!!!!!  So the second husband says I’ll show you how its done, tells the servant, ‘Go in the other room and tell my wife I order her to come.’  Servant leaves, comes back, says ‘Your wife says that if you need her you should go to the other room where she is.’ Wedding is all OOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!  Finally Petruchio, who married Kate the shrew, says to the servant, ‘Go and ask my wife to please come here.’ Servant leaves, and in comes Kate, dragging the other two wives with her by the ear.  This is the speech that she gives them on how a wife is supposed to act.”

She delivers the monologue and I tell them a little bit about the ending, using the expression “she’s got him wrapped around her little finger” until I discover that they don’t know what that means. Oh, well.

At this point the teacher fires up the projector to share a video I brought. I’d come with Coriolanus’ “Common cry of curs” speech, but I thought it would be fun to show a video of this speech being performed, and then let them have a go at it.  (I also brought Henry V, but this one was shorter so I started here). Funny thing, though, is that I tried to grab Ralph Fiennes’ version (since I own that one on DVD), but late last night I realize that I’d actually downloaded Tom Hiddleston’s version!

So I put the speech in context.  I say, “Who here knows Captain America?”  Every hand shoots up.  “Ok, now imagine Captain America a few thousand years ago. Here’s this super soldier standing at the front of the Roman Army, leading all the charges into battle, singlehandedly crushing every enemy.  Literally, the battle starts, he runs ahead, and by the time the rest of the army shows up, the enemy is already defeated.  That’s this dude Coriolanus. Well, the politicians start thinking, what do you do with a war hero? You make him into a politician.  Only the problem is, he doesn’t want to be a politician. He hates the idea. Doesn’t like hanging out with regular people. He wants to be out there on the battlefield. And his political enemies know this.  The tide turns on him, and before he knows what’s happening, the people that he’s spent his life defending are now demanding that he be the one who is banished from the city!  This is what he has to say to them in return…”  *play*

After the speech I ask, “Did that guy look familiar at all?”

One kid’s hand shoots up.  “Is that Ralph Fiennes?”  He even pronounced in “Ray”.  Well, I suppose “Rayf” is probably more accurate.

I give him a double take.  “No, but nice pull! How did you guess that?  Ralph Fiennes actually did another movie version of Coriolanus, that I almost brought. But no, this is not Ralph Fiennes’ version.”  I’m still not sure how the kid had that name ready.  He obviously didn’t know the movie, because he would have known that this is not him. But he must also have known that it existed.  Not too many people see “Ralph” and know to pronounce it.

The kids eventually figure out that it is Loki from the Avengers movie and that same kid says, “Tom Hiddle…something.”

I get the feeling that I’m losing them with the monologues. The hands are still shooting up to come up to the front of the class and read something, which is good, and I have a whole bunch more to choose from … but I realize that when one kid is reading and not really understanding what they’re saying, there’s 20 kids trying not to be bored.  I’ve tried to tell them to move around and to emote a bit, but it’s not working.  They need some stage directions.

Time to bring out the swordplay.

To be continued!

And now, a break for our fundraiser.  This year, Shakespeare is Universal is looking to prove that Shakespeare makes life better by donating money to support cancer research. Last year’s shirt was a big success and we’re looking forward to shattering our previous goal, all in the name of charity. Please take a moment, visit the site and see if I can’t convince you to show the world your love for Shakespeare and support a great cause.  Not for you? Fair enough – but that’s what those Share buttons are for!  Don’t leave without telling your friends and family. Surely you know somebody that would love one of our limited edition shirts.  Available this year in multiple styles including long sleeve, v-neck and women’s styles. Multiple colors available!

Most Wholesome Physic: Medicine in the Age of Shakespeare

Most Wholesome Physic: Medicine in the Age of Shakespeare, 1564-1616.
An exhibition at the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare.
Tuesday 6 May 2014 until Saturday 26th July 2014.
Monday – Thursday: 9.00 – 21.00
Friday: 9.00 – 17.30
Saturday: 10.00 – 16.30
Admission free. Open to all.
The Library,
Royal Society of Medicine
1 Wimpole Street
London W1G 0AE
William Shakespeare was born at Stratford-upon-Avon on 23 April 1564. This exhibition of books from the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine is intended to mark the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. Almost all of the books on display were published in Shakespeare’s lifetime, and show many of the medical preoccupations of the age, liberally juxtaposed with quotations from the plays and poems. This was a great period for books published in the vernacular and therefore more accessible to a lay public, so much emphasis is given in this exhibition to works written in English, or translated into English.

Shakespeare saves lives. Find out how.

The Sex Jokes Your Teacher Probably Skipped Over

Long-time contributor Alexi contributed to this story on Vox about Shakespeare Innuendoes You Should Have Been Embarrassed To Read in Class. I think it’s a funny article about what could easily be an immature topic.

Regular Shakespeare readers probably know most if not all of them already – C’s, U’s and T’s … Juliet falling on her back instead of her face, Hamlet and Ophelia’s groaning, etc…

There’s one in there that’s little more than Rosalind looking for 20 of Orlando’s “things” which I thought was a bit of a stretch.

And then there’s the usual bit about Juliet, dying, happy daggers and sheaths. I’m not sure if anybody noticed, but this week in the Shakespeare’s dictionary story? There was an example given where the original owner had marked “scabbard/sheath” and written “vagina” next to it, almost confirming exactly what Juliet really meant.  Honestly when I saw that I thought it fell into the “now I know it’s fake, that’s too obvious to be true” camp.

The bit about dying is interesting. There’s the connection between “little death” and orgasm.  Fine.  But the way I was taught, it was called that because it had to do with spilling one’s life seed.  Therefore it was something that only men had to worry about.  Therefore if you catch a woman in a Shakespeare play talking about dying, she is definitely not talking about orgasm.    Thoughts, one way or the other?

UPDATE : Joe S on Twitter called me out on this, citing multiple examples of “die” used to reference female orgasm, in Shakespeare and before.  But my googling continued to suggest that up to the Victorian Era it was the assumption (myth?) that there was no such thing, and that it was not “proven” until the 1950’s.

Enter Bardfilm and his academic access to the OED, where we found multiple examples of Shakespeare’s usage, such as this exchange from Much Ado About Nothing:

CLAUDIO

Nay, but I know who loves him.

DON PEDRO

That would I know too: I warrant, one that knows him not.

CLAUDIO

Yes, and his ill conditions; and, in despite of
all, dies for him.

DON PEDRO

She shall be buried with her face upwards.

Now if we assume that the “bury her face upwards” line is a sex joke – and it’s almost a carbon copy of the Nurse’s joke to Juliet, so I think we can – then that puts the whole exchange in a bawdy light. In that context it seems almost certainly a sexual / orgasm reference.

And that’s only one of many references. In fact, the OED cites that example first.  I still think it’s interesting that it only ever talks about orgasm and never differentiates male/female, even though the two are pretty different.

But, still.  Today I Learned!

Shakespeare saves lives. Find out how.

Today was good, today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

Another Shakespeare Day has just about come and gone (although I’m sure I’ll be tweeting for a few more hours yet!)

Here is the complete list of blog posts on the day.  Did I break the previous record of 28?

Counting this one it should be 29.  Record achieved.  🙂

This year it’s not about just quantity. I’ve always said that the mission of the site is to prove that Shakespeare makes life better, and this year we’re doing it with a couple of projects that are donating money to the American Cancer Society.

First is the Shakespeare Haiku Project. One of the most popular posts ever on Shakespeare Geek is Bardfilm’s epic Complete Works of Shakespeare in Haiku. Recently I put one of my favorites, onto a wall poster and suggested that we donate 100% of the proceeds to charity. The poster, depicting the famous “Great Wave off Kanagawa” woodcut that you’ve no doubt seen, is available in multiple sizes and price points from postcard up to framed wall hanging.  All proceeds from the the sale of this item will go directly to the American Cancer Society.  If there is interest in seeing a whole line of products based on Bardfilm’s haiku, all the proceeds from those products will be donated as well. You just have to let us know what you’d like to see.  A coffee mug? A pillow? If you’re willing to buy it for charity we’re willing to make it.

The second is the return of our annual, limited edition Shakespeare is Universal t-shirt.  Last year we met our goal of 100 shirts, and I had people banging on the door trying to get them after the deadline had passed.  This year we’re going for 150.  The image is an original graphic by my friend Peter Phelan  depicting Shakespeare cut out into little stars and making the heavens shine so very bright. Most importantly, we will be donating 30% of the proceeds to the American Cancer Society.

I hope I kept you entertained for another Shakespeare Day, here and on Twitter. I did not hit my 5000 followers yet, but it’ll happen soon I’m sure. If you’re not yet following, please think about it. Some of the most spontaneous (and therefore funniest) material only ever shows up there.

That’s about it for me. Please take a moment to visit our two charitable links, and consider a purchase/donation.  Then like and share them with your friends and family! Let’s prove that Shakespeare can make a lot of lives better this year.

Happy Birthday, and Thank You Shakespeare!

Shakespeare Books for Children, You Say?

Here’s a list that’s right up my alley -Top 10 Shakespeare Books for Children. My first thought is, “I wonder how many of them I have?”  My second is, “I wonder how many are “filler” that shouldn’t on this list?”

Charles and Mary Lamb make an appearance, of course. I never liked these, and I’m probably in the minority. Not only is the writing really dated, but the stories are painfully abridged. Their version of The Tempest completely cuts out the entire Trinculo/Stephano subplot.  Go ahead, search for their names, they’re not in there.

Usborne’s Illustrated Shakespeare got the most play (ha!) in my house, mostly because it’s been around the longest and has pictures. My daughter picked it up on more than one occasion by herself to read the stories.

I want to like the Shakespeare Can Be Fun series, which retell the stories entirely in a series of rhyming couplets, illustrated by children’s drawings. But they are an insane chore to work through! You have no idea how hard it is to read rhyming couplets until you try to read an entire play that way. I take these to my kids’ classrooms to read and the kids get up and go see what else is available. True story.

Marcia Williams’ books are our most recent find, and are excellent on all levels. If anything they’re packed a little too densely, translating each page into a series of comic-book panels with commentary from the audience running down the margins.  You want to read it all but it’s hard to tell *how* to read it all.

Definitely some new ideas on the list, and some books I don’t have yet.

This year’s Shakespeare posting marathon is sponsored by “Shakespeare is Universal.” Help us prove that Shakespeare makes life better. Buy a t-shirt and support cancer research.

The Complete Works of Shakspere

The other day my family took a little vacation to the Newport Mansions, a neighborhood of Gilded Age mansions owned by families like the Vanderbilts. Everything we saw was all mid-to-late 1800’s and basically looked like sets from Downton Abbey.

Of course I spent all my time looking for Shakespeare references.

At one point I did see a book open on a table that said something about the lamentable death of King Edward the something.  I leaned so far over the rope to read more that an alarm went off ;).  But I don’t believe I was looking at anything Shakespearean.

What I did see, in one of the libraries, was a set of volumes entitled “The Complete Works of Shakspere”.  Note the spelling. I even called the kids over to spot it.

I wonder if I was looking at this 1850 edition?

What frustrates me is I came back to the computer and started googling for references to either Vanderbilt Shakespeare, or gilded age Shakespeare.  What I found in the case of the former was little more than stories from Vanderbilt University’s Shakespeare program, and nothing about the families potential early interest in our favorite playwright.

When I googled the latter I discovered the novel of the same name by Mr. Mark Twain, and I think I learned that Shakespeare is actually where we get the term in the first place? That I did not know.  I knew about laughing at gilded butterflies and gilding the lilly but I guess I never made the connection that the entire expression to gild something all comes from Shakespeare.

What was the state of American Shakespeare in the late 1800’s, anybody know? We know about President Lincoln’s interest, and the Booth family.  I guess I just assumed that somewhere in one of those mansions in all the stories about all the parties they threw, somebody would have mention something Shakespearean, someplace.

This year’s Shakespeare posting marathon is sponsored by “Shakespeare is Universal.” Help us prove that Shakespeare makes life better. Buy a t-shirt and support cancer research.

Share Shakespeare!

I’m also happy to announce that version 2.1 of ShakeShare : Shareable Shakespeare, our iOS app, is now available!  This is a huge update, adding over 500 quotes to the database and two dozen new background images.

What’s your favorite quote/image combo that you’ve discovered so far?  Post them here!

This year’s Shakespeare posting marathon is sponsored by “Shakespeare is Universal.” Help us prove that Shakespeare makes life better. Buy a t-shirt and support cancer research.