So great was the Elizabethan demand for wigs made from human hair that "children with handsome locks were never allowed to walk alone in the London streets for fear they should be temporarily kidnapped and their tresses cut off." Read on...
Most early editors removed five lines from Romeo and Juliet for the sake of common decency. Which lines caused such scandal? Find out...
One of England's greatest writers, and a friend of William Shakespeare, killed the leader of the acting troupe The Admiral's Men, Gabriel Spencer. Who was he?
"Shakespeare's mind may best be likened to a highly sensitised photographic plate, which need only be exposed for the hundredth part of a second to anything in life or literature, in order to receive upon its surface the firm outline of a picture which could be developed and reproduced at will. If Shakespeare's mind for the hundredth part of a second came in contact in an alehouse with a burly good-humoured toper, the conception of a Falstaff found instantaneous admission to his brain. The character had revealed itself to him in most of its involutions, as quickly as his eye caught sight of its external form, and his ear caught the sound of the voice." Sidney Lee, Great Englishmen of the Sixteenth Century
The story of King Lear and his three daughters is an old tale, well known in England for centuries before Shakespeare wrote the definitive play on the subject. The first English account of Lear can be found in the History of the Kings of Britain, written by Geoffrey Monmouth in 1135. However, it is clear that Shakespeare relied chiefly on King Leir, an anonymous play published twelve years before the first recorded performance of Shakespeare's King Lear. Read on to find out more about Leir and see side-by-side versions of Leir and Shakespeare's masterpiece.
"Shakespeare derived from Saxo's Amleth (Hamlet) the
story from which he composed his immortal tragedy. Saxo, however, represents Hamlet as having been twice married, first to a daughter of the King of Britain, whose name does not appear, whom he abandoned to espouse Hermutrude, Queen of the Scots" [Oliver Elton, The Nine Books of the Danish History]. Find out more and read the two books of the Danish History upon which Hamlet is based.