No I Will Not Name My Son Fleance

More from this morning’s conversation:  (it helps to know that my daughters are Katherine, 6, and Elizabeth, soon to be 4.  Elizabeth is doing the questioning.) “The star of that one (AYLI) is a girl named Rosalind.  I hear it’s very good.”

“Daddy, did Shakespeare write any more stories with girls?”

“Oh, sure, lots and lots, Shakespeare wrote some very good stories with girls.  There’s Juliet, and Miranda, and Cordelia…

“I like Cordelia!”

“I know you do!  There’s also a couple of Katherines!” 

(Elizabeth looks very impressed.)

“I’m afraid Shakespeare didn’t write any Elizabeth stories, though.” 


“But there’s a reason for that.  You want to know why?”


“Because back when Shakespeare was writing all these stories?  Elizabeth was actually the *queen*.” 

(I swear, my daughter sat up straighter in her chair at that, it was the funniest thing.  Oh, well, I’m the queen?  Well then, that’s ok!)  

“He couldn’t really make up any stories with Elizabeth in them, you see, because if the Queen didn’t like it?  Bam, right in the dungeon.” 

(Elizabeth contemplates this and seems to decide that yes, that would be the appropriate thing for a queen to do.  If you don’t like the story, then the teller of the story goes to the dungeon.)  “And who is the queen now?”

“Actually, it’s kinda funny that you ask, but believe it or not it’s still Elizabeth!” I didn’t bother explaining that it’s a different Elizabeth, because she wouldn’t have gotten it or cared.  She’s still got the sense of time where “last week” means a long time ago, and “tomorrow” means “soon.”

4 thoughts on “No I Will Not Name My Son Fleance

  1. If it helps, Queen Elizabeth, wife to Edward IV, has quite a large role in Richard III. She also appears in Henry VI, Part Three.

    The title of the post… Robin Williams?

  2. Yeah, I knew of that one, but I was thinking more of “Shakespeare didn’t make up any new characters and name them Elizabeth.” I didn’t want to get into explaining about the notion of multiple Queen Elizabeths.

    I do recall a comedian doing a joke about naming your kid Fleance, but couldn’t tell you if it was Robin Williams.

  3. And, as I am fond of pointing out, Queen Elizabeth I _does_ appear onstage in a Shakespeare play: Henry VIII. It’s not a speaking role, because she is a newborn infant. Thomas Cranmer says some very nice things about her at her baptism.

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