Talk:William Shakespeare/Archive 10

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Is the picture of Will Shakespeare in Main Page/tomorrow supposed to have an earing? It seems weird to me... Astrale01talkcontribs 00:47, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

In fact, the earring is, strange though it may seem, in the original Chandos portrait. Joe 03:06, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

copied from Talk:Main Page here

I don't know whether it's accurate to say it's 'strange'. Chandos portrait says that earrings were emblematic of poets of the time. Earring doesn't really discuss the history (nor does body piercings) but it does mention that earrings amongst males is making a comeback which suggests it may have actually been more common historicly. Remember that just because ear piercings or earrings have traditionally been seen as a female thing in contempory times, it doesn't mean it was always so. Fashions change all the time. For example, pink is often seen as a 'feminine' colour in western cultures and even in many more modern Asian cultures influenced by the west. (Blue being masculine) But the association of colours with genders is evidentally a fairly recent thing and pink was seen as a masculine colour with blue as a feminine colour in the early 20th century according to some sources [1]. Also pirates really wore earrings evidentally for example [2]. Nil Einne 10:36, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Funnily enough, I had occasion to reference that precise Google Answers thread in a discussion about the red-blue issue a few months hither at the science reference desk. In any case, you are quite right about the evolution of various fashion trends, and I meant only to suggest that the earring might well be understood by most modern views as "strange"—that earrings may have been relatively common amongst males several centuries ago is not, I'd suggest, commonly known—and, in fact, might appear to many/most to be a vandalistic addition to the image. Joe 18:45, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
  • To the best of my memory: on one of his voyages Sir Francis Drake had his ear pierced for a plug as part of a Native American adoption ceremony (very possibly as the only means of getting himself and his crew safely away.) Back at Queen Elizabeth's court he replaced the plug with a pearl, starting a fashion that became synonymous with 'freebooter' since he and other Elizabethan captains carried the Queen's "letters of marqué" (licenses) to attack and seize any and all Spanish shipping they came across. Naturally the Spanish viewed him and his ilk as pirates pure and simple, hence the popularity of the fashion among pirates. Sorry, no references: it was part of my father's pointed lecture on changing male/female fashions, together with Louis XIV high-heeled shoes and page-boy hair cuts. Happy Hunting! Shir-El too 23:57, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Well according to the above it may have arisen from acupuncture Nil Einne 13:56, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Widely regarded as the greatest writer of the English language?

By some, yes (and I wouldn't be surprised that you find those views in books about Shakespeare), but "widely regarded as the greatest" might be a too much. Wouldn't "arguably the greatest" be more accurate, still reflecting his influence but not closing out Dickens, Hemingway and Voltaire, just to name a few of the top hits from googling "Greatest Writer"? Sad mouse 02:34, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

PS, it is good to see the last few front page articles have actually been about something important. Sad mouse 02:34, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

You would never believe the amount of thought that has gone into that wording. "Widely regarded" is not the same as "arguably the greatest", but it is no different in effect (in other words, it leaves room (since it does not say "universally regarded") for some people to believe that he is not the greatest writer of the English language and that Dickens or Hemingway was, if you like). The trouble is that we couldn't find many serious arguments that anyone else was the greatest writer of the English language (certainly not Voltaire, who wrote in French). The formula we've used can be found in books and other encyclopedias. We are pretty much going along with the crowd here. qp10qp 03:07, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I can believe the amount of debate it is had, but still I think they got it wrong ;) If they couldn't find many serious arguments that anyone else was the greatest, well... it is difficult to find a serious argument (that is, an objective argument) for Shakespeare being the greatest. After all, it isn't even known if all the works attributed to him were even written by the same person and many of the most famous plays are known to be more or less plagerised. Not to mention that he wasn't thought of as the greatest writer at the time he lived. So in sort, you can't make an objective argument for anyone being the greatest ever English author. If many books put forward the case (in fact, argue the case) that he is the greatest writer, that reflects that he is arguably the greatest writer. So unless wikipedia is stating his worth (which would be original worth), reporting on other arguments is best reflected by writing arguably, if that makes sense. Sad mouse 03:42, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Also, the reputation section is much better - stating his influence without going over-the-top and saying that he is widely regarded as the greatest of all time. The intro should reflect the content of the article rather than going further. Sad mouse 03:47, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
That he's widely regarded as the greatest writer in English is a fact; arguments as to whether he actually was the greatest writer are completely and utterly irrelevant. You say "you can't make an objective argument for anyone being the greatest ever English author" -- indeed, but the article doesn't make any such argument or claim there is one, as anyone who has mastered the English language should realize. You say "If they couldn't find many serious arguments that anyone else was the greatest" -- who said they couldn't? The existence of such arguments is irrelevant, and doesn't affect how Shakespeare is widely regarded. Even if someone somewhere considers Dickens or Hemingway the best writer in English, that doesn't change the fact that Shakespeare is widely regarded to be; that fact doesn't "close out" anything. And "widely regarded as arguably the greatest writer" is horrid weaselly English and is a pointless tautology. Your reasoning is atrocious on several levels and your argumentation sloppy (Voltaire?) and seems to be fueled by personal opposition and nothing else. -- 05:46, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Show me the public survey that you base this "fact on". Otherwise it seems you are basing it simply on hearsay. How would I rephrase it? Perhaps "widely argued to be the greatest writer" or even better "the best-selling author of all time". Please address my point rather than make personal attacks. Sad mouse 17:17, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

The idea that other authors wrote his works is described by many scholars as laughable. The ones that are less severe debunk it logically time and time again, or don't acknowledge it as a legitimate theory at all. So that isn't a valid reason not to call him the greatest. As for the rest, I'll leave that to QP to argue. Wrad 03:51, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't believe Sad Mouse was citing the authorship issue as the chief cause of her complaint, so I am sorry to see the above statement. Scholars who make grand statements like "laughable" are often laughable themselves. Regarding "now widely regarded", this phrasing will continue to bother some, but I beleive that Qp's response above explains why the wording is appropriate and defendable. It does leave room and the "now" makes clear that this reflects current opinion..Smatprt 05:07, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
King Lear for example is clearly a rip-off of Irish mythology, but that was not my point. My point is not that he isn't the greatest, just that it is too strong to say he is widely considered the greatest. 04:58, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Your "point" is factually wrong, he is widely regarded as the greatest writer in English, and your rhetoric about "arguably" is nonsensical -- the relevant regard concerns Shakespeare, or writers of English, not arguments. -- 06:02, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
King Lear has nothing to do with Irish mythology. Lear was supposed to be an ancient British king. It's as meaningful to call it a 'rip off' as it is to say that Antony and Cleopatra is a "rip off" of ancient Roman history, or - for that matter - that the Sistine Chapel ceiling is a rip off of the bible! Paul B 08:30, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

To clarify: if lots of critics argue that Shakespeare is the greatest writer, then you could say "it is widely argued that Shakespeare is the greatest writer". If you write that it is "widely considered Shakespeare is the greatest author" this connotations that he is popularly considered the greatest writer. For the first it is enough to simply google and see that lots of critics make that claim (which they do). For the second (much stronger) you need to see some survey by which most English speakers consider him the greatest. Is there a survey you are basing this on? I doubt it (but I'd believe it if you had evidence), for example the "all time favourite book" in popular surveys often goes to something like the Lord of the Rings (eg in recent ABC survey in Australia). This does not indicate that the wide public considers Shakespeare the best. Unless you have evidence that the public consider him the best, you should indicate that you are talking about academic arguments by saying "widely argued". Sad mouse 04:58, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't think we'd need a survey, we'd just need several of the most widely read encyclopedias in the world to make the claim, which we do. Wrad 05:00, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Sad Mouse, it is easy enough to find writers arguing that Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the English language; we don't have to collect the data ourselves or do our own research into polls. (By the way, we carefully don't claim that Shakespeare is widely considered the greatest writer in the world, only the greatest in the English language and the greatest dramatist.) It is true that Shakespeare wasn't always viewed in this way, which is why the important word "now" prefixes the statement. We have backed that statement with three sources, but there are others. As for the lead's claim being more overt than that in the critical section, this is because you have to establish significance in the lead. Claims to significance tend to be made at the beginning of encyclopedia articles, not only on Wikipedia (we used to reference other encyclopedias that make this claim too, but we thought it would be classier to refer to sources directly rather than to other encyclopedias).qp10qp 05:16, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Well, Sad Mouse, I have just googled "greatest writer" and came up with an article about why Shakespeare is the "greatest writer" Every other "greatest writer" hit was qualified! It quoted Hemmingway as "greatest American writer" and Voltaire as "greatest writer of his age" etc etc. I didn't actually get a "greatest writer" hit for Dickens at all!
  • I've read of Hemmingway being quoted as "one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century" and Dickens being quoted as "one of the greatest English novelists" but I have never read any serious material on either of them that suggested that they were "the greatest writer of the English language". Why not? Because nobody who writes seriously about English considers tham as great as Shakespeare.
  • Just a couple of points- Using the plot of an Italian story (eg Romeo and Juliet) was not considered "plagiarism" in any negative sense, anymore than taking the paly and turning it into a Ballet is considered a problem. It was merely seen as source material. What Shakespeare did was give the characters a life that they never had, while they remained a story.
  • Whether or not a man called "William Shakespeare" wrote the plays, it is clear that someon wrote them, and that someone wrote all of them. Call him Shakespeare or Joe Bloggs, he remains the greatest writer of the English language.
  • Yes of course it is people who are writing about Shakespeare say that he was the greatest. If they were not writing about Shakespeare, they wouldn't be writing about Shakespeare, would they?
  • My suggestion, Sad Mouse, is that you study Shakespeare for yourself, and find out why! And if you find them hard to read, hire videos and enjoy! Amandajm 05:51, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I am not really a fan of Shakespeare, but that it not the point. Sad mouse 16:48, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

The wide regard for Shakespeare as the greatest writer of English goes far beyond those who write about him -- it also extends to those who read what is written. Every day, numerous students are told by their teachers that Shakespeare was the greatest writer in English -- that leads to widespread belief that it is true, which is all the article is claiming. -- 06:11, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

If this isn't a moot point already, use the test of time: how often are his plays produced compared to others of his or any age? Or how often re-published? discussed? As to authorship: there is something about these plays that keep each generation interested, even riveted (check out West Side Story, Ran and Renaissance Man). The same cannot be said of any other author in or out of these comments. Period. 'Nuf said. Shir-El too 09:04, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Now you are cooking with gas, yes if you have something to indicate that his plays and books outsell that of all other authors you are indicating a general public opinion. A claim on the lines of Shakespeare being "the best selling author of all time" seems perfectly legitimate to me, and something you can reference. I wouldn't assume that this means the public think he is the greatest writer of all time though, no more than I assume that the public think that JK Rowlings is the greatest writer of our time just because she is the best selling author of our time. Why not make claims that can be backed up, instead of broad claims about what the public think that are not based on any surveys? And if you believe that no other writer has been admired in every generation you are sadly mistaken. Sad mouse 17:15, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I am happy to concede your point if you have a single survey which indicates the belief is actually wide spread in the general public. Sad mouse 16:50, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

It seems that lots of people have misunderstood my point. I am not trying to argue that he wasn't the greatest (I don't think he was, but that is my personal opinion). I am saying that the wording of the statement depends on the source. For example, consider the claim that George Washington is the greatest American President. If this was widely acknowledged by historians, you would write "widely acknowledged by historians". If many people wrote articles presenting an argument that he was the greatest you would write "he is widely argued to be the greatest". If a general public survey found that the public believe he is the greatest you would write "he is widely regarded as the greatest". The wording that you use reflects the data you are basing the claim on. Everyone's point about many people claiming he was the greatest are based on assessments by literature experts or arguments put forward. This means that "he is widely argued to be the greatest". If there is any evidence that the public consider him to be the greatest writer, then (and only then) can you say "he is widely regarded as the greatest". Do you have any evidence for this claim? If so reference it, if not reword it. I personally think that a survey would show that the English believe he is the greatest writer, but I doubt that American, Australian or other English-speaking publics would "widely consider him the greatest". Please, if you have evidence that I am wrong, just present it and I'll let it go. All I am trying to say is that the wording implies a general public consensus for which you need survey results. Sad mouse 16:48, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't think a survey is necessary. We have surveyed the relevant sources, public and scholarly, and these sources back up the statement sufficiently and easily. Wrad 17:18, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Have you, that is great to know. Where is the survey of public opinion that you backs up your claim? Sad mouse 17:21, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
It is reflected in the fact that so many public sources make the statement. Surveys aren't really a good measure of public opinion anyway. Wrad 17:24, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
A survey of public opinion is not a good measure of public opinion? Perhaps you write that because surveys of public opinion do not put Shakespeare first (eg the favourite book of all time survey in Australia, which put Lord of the Rings first)? Sad mouse 17:31, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Sad Mouse: The info that Shakespeare is "now widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist" is both heavily cited (see the references), factually accurate, and also the consensus wording on this article. Please do not change that wording without first gaining a new consensus to do so.--Alabamaboy 17:36, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I should add that all the major encyclopedias state this very thing. For examples, see Encyclopedia Britannica Online and MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Endless references can be provided on this info.--Alabamaboy 17:40, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
The claim is not correctly referenced, because it does not reference any public surveys showing that the sentiment is widespread in the public. My argument is simple, even if anyone refuses to respond to it - "widely recognised" indicates the public, "widely argued" indicates critics, "widely recognised by scholars" indicates scholars. The first you have presented no evidence for, the second and third you have. So why not put in the second or third? Or even better "best selling author of all time in any language"? Afterall, if the point is to say how great Shakespeare is that is a statistic (which can be backed up) which says it all. Saying "other encyclopedias do it" is rather weak, and as a note the Encarta introduction says "recognized in much of the world as the greatest of all dramatists", while Britannica has "considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time", both of which are reasonable. Encarta uses "greatest writer" as a descriptor latter on (not as a factual statement) which Britannica doesn't use it at all. Sad mouse 18:02, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
When we say "widely regarded" (on Wikipedia), we mean in written sources. Widely regarded among people who are paid to have an opinion about the matter. It has nothing to do with the opinion of people who never think about Shakespeare from one day to the next. qp10qp 18:01, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
That is very reasonable. However I disagree that "widely regarded" does not mean the general public. Even people arguing for "widely regarded" above seem to think it means the general public. Which is why I think "widely regarded by scholars" or "best-selling author of all time" are better, because those are statements we can back up. Sad mouse 18:05, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I second what qp10qp said. This is about the critical assessment of Shakespeare. However, the general public also sees Shakespeare as the best writer in the English language. For proof (or as much proof as a poll will have), see Shakespeare voted millennium's best writer. Since this public view so concerns Sad Mouse, I will now add this to the references for that statement. Unless Sad Mouse has another objection, that should end the debate on this.--Alabamaboy 18:18, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

The statement does not indicate that it is a critical assessment not a general public position. Yes, public opinion polls are necessary for a statement on public opinion. Your reference indicates that the English generally think he is the greatest writer (which I said earlier), but unless the BBC also surveyed the rest of the English-speaking world, you have not shown that the general public have that position. So no, debate should not be ended until you have a general survey or the rewording shows it is critical assessment or UK public opinion. Sad mouse 18:25, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I added that reference to a public poll to show that both views are accurate: the critical and the public view. And the BBC is a world-level news organization, so the results came from across the globe. But I am through with this debate. Every time someone presents referenced and accurate info for you, you split hairs. The simple fact is that the current language is the consensus version which has been agreed upon by large numbers of editors. You are the only editor arguing for this change. Unless you can find a consensus on this talk page to make the change, the language should not be changed.--Alabamaboy 18:31, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
It's a wonder they didn't all vote for J.K. Rowling. Honestly, opinion polls are so flaky, at least in my opinion. Wrad 18:37, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I think that is quite dishonest. You never entered the debate because you never addressed my point. My point was that you need a reference to show public opinion if you are going to make that statement. You say that people have shown me many many references, none have included the public opinion poll. You implicitly conceded my point when you adding a public opinion poll, and if that was a global poll then I am happy to end the debate. However I specifically said before that the public opinion in the UK is likely to be different to the rest of the world, and you could only come up with an online BBC poll. Other public polls of the broad public's favourite books shows the Lord of the Rings at #1 in Australia and the UK Instead you have been highhanded, pretending you can singlehandly end debate by saying that other encyclopaedias introduced the topic in the same way, quoting examples where they did not.
If I may say so, Sad Mouse, there is no lack of sourcing for the point. You overlook the fact that the Shakespeare cultural phenomenon is constantly studied in its own right. So writers write about the popularity, the reputation, the criticism, the sales, the performance history, the internationalism, the whole shebang. Ad nauseam, in fact. We don't need polls at all, nor do we need to state that the judgement we report is only that of scholars; the scholars themselves tell us that the Shakespeare phenomenon goes far beyond academe. The introduction to the Oxford Shakespeare, for example (first book I picked up), says that Shakespeare "has come to be looked upon as a universal genius who outshone all his fellows and even, some said, partook of the divine. Since then, no other secular imaginative writer has exerted so great an influence over so large a proportion of the world's population". Do you understand the point I am making? That when books say things like this, we don't need to interview people outside the fish-and-chip shop to ask if they agree. In fact, you might consider acknowledging our restraint in using such a modest locution as "widely regarded".
But fish not with this melancholy bait
For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.
qp10qp 19:11, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I do understand what you are saying, but I just think that the connotation from the introduction is that he is publically considered the greatest author, and I just don't see the data from this (in fact it disagrees with surveys asking people what their favourite book of all time is). I also don't understand what is so wrong with saying that scholars widely consider him the best, or saying that he is the best-selling author. The way I have had so many personal attacks without anyone other than yourself debating the point indicates to me that the people here are emotionally invested in the wording rather than searching for the best NPOV wording. Sad mouse 20:27, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Please assume good faith, here. I know you're frustrated, but NPOV is determined by the source. The vast majority of sources out there use the wording we do. To change that for one poll would be POV, especially since polls aren't really conclusive or reliable most of the time. I don't really know if he's the greatest myself, I just know what most sources say, and wikipedia is bound to follow that. Wrad 20:49, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I was assuming good faith until I had editors attack me personally, not address my point and make false statements. If most sources say X, wikipedia should say "most sources say X" rather than repeating X as a fact - do you see what I mean? Also, I put forward two polls, all the other editors combined put in one poll, so isn't it POV to keep their option? The other encyclopedias cited as examples have a much more moderate intro, calling him the greatest dramatist rather htan the greatest writer. Finally, I just don't understand what is wrong with calling him the best-selling author of all time in any language - for people who want to build up Shakespeare that certainly does it, and it does have the benefit of being a proveable statement. Sad mouse 21:12, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
We don't call him the greatest writer. We don't even call him the greatest writer in English. We say that he is widely regarded as the greatest writer in English. We do not reference scholars who widely regard him as the best writer in English, we quote scholars reporting that he is widely regarded as the best writer in English. Do you see the difference? If you don't see the difference, you won't be able to grasp how we reference that sentence.qp10qp 21:38, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes I see your point, but you don't say "widely regarded among scholars". And the scholars you are referring to are literature scholars not demographic scholars, so they are reporting their own assessment and not the general public sentiment. Do you see my point? Sad mouse —Preceding signed but undated comment was added at 22:07, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Frankly, no. Shakespeare studies are very broad and the scholarly community enormous. Demography is nothing to do with it. Performance studies are, popular culture is, multiculturalism is, linguistics and language studies are, feminism is....the amount of knowledge upon which scholars may draw for an estimate of Shakespeare's status is colossal. Literature scholars don't just sit there poring over ancient tomes you know; they teach in the real world.qp10qp 22:52, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Sad Mouse: I apologize if you took those encyclopedia article as being misleading. I provided them to show that other encyclopedias say similar things as this article (which was my intention, although the way I wrote that comment may have left the impression those encyclopedias stated the exact same thing as here, which is not true). For example, Britannica says Shakespeare is "often called the English national poet and considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time." Similar to what we have, but not quite the same. Anyway, you accuse us of attacking you, but I haven't seen one place where any of us have done that; all we have tried to do is show you what the evidence says. When you said the article needed a "reference to show public opinion if you are going to make that statement," I provided a large public poll showing just that. Despite this, the points others have made here are the simple truth: public polls and surveys do not take the place of well referenced information, all of which is provided in the article to show that the statement is supported by the preponderance of evidence. The general public along with critics see Shakespeare as the greatest writer. To remove that statement when it is supported by so much evidence would be POV. Best,--Alabamaboy 00:30, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Even if we were going by public opinion, Shakespeare is at the top. If you recall, he was voted "Man of the Millenium" in 2000, and it wasn't because he ran a theatre. (I don't know if they polled anybody in China, although I know he is quite popular in India and Pakistan.) Tom Reedy 02:30, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
I'd like to comment on the popularity pol in Australia. Well, they didn't ask me but that's beside the point. Unfortunately, many years ago now, educationalists in Australia decided to treat Australian kids like real dummies. Studying Shakespeare requires application, doesn't it.... so let's not do it! At the same time as Shakespeare was dropped from the Junior Secondary Syllabus (in NSW, the most populated state, I can't speak for the others) they also dropped English Grammar, and learning times tables by rote! .....don't ask!!! At the same time, a systematic study of science principals was dropped, in favour of dipping into this and that... and so on, and so on....
Students who have six years of high school have generally studied one or two of Shakespeare's plays, but they haven't been exactly steeped in a knowledge of Shakespeare... or poetry. Kids at Primary level do not study Robert Louis Stevenson, or anything that intellectual. They might have a poem called "Knickerbocker Glory" but that is as far as it goes. So eventually, they find Lord of the Rings, and it's the biggest intellectual challenge of their lives.
Bad decision by one Board or even perhaps by one forceful Director of Education, and what you get is.... a couple of generations of Australians who really do not know that Shakespeare is the greatest English writer, and who, because they are smart and can argue well, will argue, from their position of ignorance, that you must be, or at least may be, in error for stating that it is a generally held opinion.
And all this happened at about the same time as the Anglican Church of Australia scrapped the Book of Common Prayer, because of course, you couldn't expect yer average kid to understand what "Hallowed" meant, even if they used the word every day and twice on Sundays! ('strewth, that stupid JKR got it wrong, didn't she?). Amandajm 10:35, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I'm an Australian. Amandajm 10:35, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
On a simpler note, it would be pretty hard for Shakespeare to come in first on a favorite book poll. Not only is he not a book, he didn't write any either. The poll had nothing to do with Shakespeare from the moment the word "book" came in. If it was a poll about authors (not "favorite", but "greatest"—those are two different things) then it might have some merit here. That's one reason I don't like polls. The slightest change in wording can skew everything and cause people to misread it. Wrad 16:09, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Shakespeare's birthplace

I've got a couple of problems with this pic. This is a rear view of the building taken from near the cottage that is the headquarters of the trust.

  • At the time of Shakespeare's birth, did John Shakespeare own the whole building, or only the half where William was born not visible in this picture?
  • That wing that juts out to the right of the pic was not part of Will's birthplace. He had it added later when he rented the left side of the building to Pulbican.
  • I don't like the caption at all. It was John Shakespeare's house, as stated, but it is not called John Shakespeare's house, it's called "William Shakespeare's Birthplace" or just "Shakespeare's Birthplace".
  • The caption says that it is next to the headquarters of the "William Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust". or words to that effect.
Yes that is perfectly accurate. But it is a completely inadequate way of describing the situation. It's a bit like saying "Westminster Abbey is right nextdoor to the Abbey Gift Shop"! The one exists wholey and soley for the purpose of serving the other. "Shakespeare's Brithplace" is not next to the Trust that serves it. It has a Trust that serves it.
  • Please fix!

I'll locate and upload a file showing that part of the building in which Shakespear was actually born, if there isn't one available already.

Amandajm 05:51, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I think Tom Reedy took this picture, and so I expect he will comment. Proof is lacking that Shakespeare was born in this house, of course, as with so much about him. qp10qp 10:16, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually Tom didn't take the picture. I haven't fixed the copyright tag, sorry about that. He emailed it to me and asked me to upload it, which I did, believing he had taken it, so I added what I thought was the appropriate copyright tag, on his behalf. It was originally taken by a wikipedian so it is in the public domain one way or another. Oh dear, this is complicated, isn't it? AndyJones 12:26, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, all I did was lighten the picture up a bit. I changed the information on the copyright page, which you can see if you click on the picture.
As far as changing the picture goes, if somebody has a better one I'm all for it.Tom Reedy 14:05, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Recent "Shakespeare's contribution to English" addition

1. Is this a copyright violation? 2. "But me no buts" is not Shakespeare, but Fielding. Shakespeare wrote "Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle" (Richard II) and "Thank me no thanks, nor proud me no prouds" (Romeo and Juliet). --RobertGtalk 11:16, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, this is a wholesale copy of an article by Bernard Levin. Are we allowed to quote passages that long? The Drama Llama 12:25, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
What article are you referring? Is it on this page? Tom Reedy 14:06, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
It seems to have gone now. It was in the 'influence' section. The Drama Llama 14:30, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it was deleted here. Thank you. --RobertGtalk 15:50, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

How many times?...

... has this article been article of the day? Surely there are some other less well known articles that are just as good? (Willieboyisaloser 14:35, 10 October 2007 (UTC))

This is the first time. Let's use it again tomorrow. :) Wrad 14:37, 10 October 2007 (UTC)


hey you need to change the picture, someone has messed around with it Drparsons 15:27, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Kempe and Armin

Why was the line about the difference between Kempe and Armin roles removed? --Scottandrewhutchins 15:41, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Unreferenced, sounds like ORSmatprt 15:45, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
This is the confusingest day ever. I assume what is there now is what you are talking about, and it seems to have been reverted. As far as the funery picture, Stephen, let's wait until it settles down and we can figure out how to place it so it doesn't interfere with the titles or look off the page. The next time I'm in Stratford I'll take some pics from the other side. Tom Reedy 16:37, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
"Confusingest" is a good word for it. It feels like three or four of us are standing on one side of the tennis net while balls are fired at us from all directions. What happens (see below) is that the new edits start to require further edits to balance them or make them fit, and more new editors oblige, until parts of the article shift from clear to fuzzy. Things are added to certain parts of the article, even though they are dealt with elsewhere. I've tidied up as many things as I can, so that the shifting doesn't get out of control. Vandalism is the easy part.qp10qp 17:13, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
When the smoke dies down we probably should look at rewriting it, or at least doing another deep copy edit. We should get some good suggestions from all this, though. Tom Reedy 20:45, 10 October 2007 (UTC)


Two editors have removed this additon due to the problems with date and text that surround this play. Perhaps you could add it elsewhere, as it does not seem to beling in this section?Smatprt 15:45, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I think some readers didn't notice that the collaborations weren't mentioned (until today) in this section; with the additions, that is no longer clear, but the idea is to pick out clear themes and stages in Shakespeare's playwriting career. Timon is really not worth mentioning in this largely greatest hits section; not only is its date unclear and its collaborative aspects the subject of much scholarly disagreement, but it seems that it was never performed during Shakespeare's lifetime and may have been published in the First Folio as an unfinished manuscript. As such, it does not fit logically or organically into the paragraph. qp10qp 16:15, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

It mentions Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well in the section. These can hardly be considered "greatest hits". --Scottandrewhutchins 16:37, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

That's not exactly what he meant, nor is it his entire point. Timon doesn't fit for other reasons which he outlined. Also, I'd say that many would disagree with the idea that those two plays, especially MfM, aren't greatest hits. No one would ever argue Timon was. Wrad 16:40, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
As it stands now, only four plays are unmentioned. Why should that number go up to 5? The tone of the sentence is similar to Eliot's praise of A & C. --Scottandrewhutchins 16:41, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Editors, perhaps thinking that they were spotting accidental omissions, have been adding mentions of more plays as the day has gone on, so the rationale of the section, which was to focus on selected plays in the context of themes and developments in an organic paragraph structure, is somewhat collapsing, I admit. Yes, it is getting to the point where if editors want every single play mentioned in this section, then we ought to try and rewrite it. In my opinion this cannot be done well through accretion, though. It would be a shame to end up with Wikipedia puddingstone style. We have to find something about Timon that will make it fit rather than hang off the paragraph. In what way does it fit into the story of Shakespeare's evolution as a playwright? The theme of loss of power, perhaps? We need a source that can connect it for us. qp10qp 16:57, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

"baptised" in intro

The first line of the article currently reads:

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616)[a] was an English poet and playwright,

The "baptised" line is, I think, intended to say that he was born shortly before that date, but that the date is uncertain. But this (implied) claim needs a citation for it to mean anything; some people get baptised when they're 2 years old, or 6 years old, or 40 years old. Tempshill 17:47, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

OK, I added a note and a citation.qp10qp 18:21, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately, adding "Samuel Schoenbaum believes we may "reasonably infer" that Shakespeare was born on the 21st, 22nd or 23rd of April 1564." unreasonably privileges his view, and unreasonably so, as there's no real basis for such an inference. The only inference that can be made was that he was born by the 26th of April. - Nunh-huh 21:43, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, we could add some inferences made by other biographers, if you like. Tempshill wants to narrow it down somehow, I think.qp10qp 21:47, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, that's the point, isn't it? Wanting to narrow it down is no excuse for narrowing it down. Adding other erroneous assumptions is no help to anyone. The only fact here is that baptismal dates are often used by genealogists and biographers on the assumption that they are probably close to the actual birth date. The assumption may be right or may be wrong in any particular instance. It's an approximation, a probability. Guessing at three particular dates is not a "reasonable inference" and the fact that Schoenbaum does it, and claims it is reasonable, is of no importance, and our reporting it as though it might be is a distortion. - Nunh-huh 22:10, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Sure, but as you know, an inference is not a guess, and it seems to be a normal part of Shakespeare scholarship to construct inferences. The article is riddled with such already. I don't need to repeat to you the bases for these inferences, I'm sure. Ackroyd says he "may have been" born on one of these three days. Honan says "it is possible that Shakespeare was born on either the 21st, 22nd, or 23rd, but the day is still unkown". Well, the article says that the date is unknown and the note says that in Schoenbaum's view we could reasonably infer one of three dates. We could change that to "it is possible that it is one of", to weaken the inference. Or should we ignore these inferring biographers by going back to not referencing estimates of the birthday? In which case, Tempshill suggests, the reader may imagine that Shakespeare was baptised at other times in his life, nowhere near the baptism. But who (scratches chin) would really think such a thing? qp10qp 22:38, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
There's no reason to mention those three dates in any way, as there's nothing at all special about them. We might say something like "most biographers believe he was born shortly before he was baptised; his actual birth date is unknown." Frankly, I don't think the note is necessary. - Nunh-huh 22:47, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Of course it's not necessary; it would be ridiculous. Much research has been done on the average time that elapsed between birth and baptism in Stratford at that time; claiming that an Elizabethan child might have been baptised months or even weeks later after his birth indicates ignorance of the pracice of the times. His monument says he was 53 when he died, and the article reports that a tradition has grown up celebrating his birth on the 23rd. Splitting academic hairs in a general-use encyclopedia article is not useful. Tom Reedy 23:23, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Well, give me a moment and I'll nuke it.qp10qp 00:02, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

The portrait might not even be Shakespeare?

I find it appalling that even the portrait I've grown up believing is Shakespeare might not be him. Shakespeare's life is truly a mystery. - Throw 18:23, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Oh, I wouldn't worry too much; in my opinion, it really is him. If you look carefully at the Droeshout engraving on the front of the First Folio and compare it with the Chandos, I think it becomes clear that the latter is a derivative of the former. I doubt the artist ever set eyes on Shakespeare, though, and, of course, the portrait could be a derivative of a derivative (common practice at the time), and so on.qp10qp 18:48, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
It's highly likely that the Chandos depicts shakespeare, but very unlikely that the Droeshout derives from it. The Droeshout (or at least the head) is assumed to be copied from a lost drawing or painting. Paul B 09:39, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, I wasn't saying that the Droeshout derives from the Chandos, but the other way round. The Droeshout is the nearest we'll probably come to what Shakespeare looked like, plus the poorly executed memorial effigy. I agree that the Droeshout is probably an engraving of a lost painting.qp10qp 10:34, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
Sorry for misunderstanding you, but the view that the Chandos derives from Droeshoout is not mainstream among art historians. It's generally thought to be an idependent work, which very likely depicts Shakespeare. Paul B 13:07, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
could be, maybe, very likely, probably. Like most things Shakespeare, lets admit we havn't a clue what he looked like, and that not one of the portraits is beyond doubt.Smatprt 14:41, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
Er, no. The Droeshout and the memorial are beyond doubt intended to depict Shakespeare. The Chandos very probably is. There is nothing unusual about this. We have no strong reason to suppose that this depicts Marlowe, and we have no image at all of Kyd. Paul B 15:11, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
I have heard it proposed that the Droeshout may have been based on a mask. It looks like one, the head is out of all proportion to the body, the artist could not have been working from life or memory, and, as an actor, Shakespeare may have had a head mask. Anybody else hear that idea? Carlo 19:36, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
I've heard the idea dismissed, and I think it fanciful. The engraver was probably working from a drawn or painted portrait. qp10qp 20:39, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Request for comment

Because of concerns over how I acted in semi-protecting this article while it was linked by the main page, I have opened a discussion on my use of my admin powers at User talk:Alabamaboy#Request for comment on my use of admin powers. Based on how the comments go, I am prepared to give up my admin powers or accept other sanctions. I hope people will comment since it directly affected this article.--Alabamaboy 01:36, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

I personally thought it was really weird that this page was unprotected at the one time it was likely to get vandalism. It was featured on the main page for goodness sake! Why was this ever even an issue? I don't appreciate it when people replace the Bard's picture with a picture of testicles, and that's just one of a hundred things that happened today that could have been avoided if it had been constantly protected as 'bama had it in the first place. Wrad 02:25, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
Because of the (contentious) Wikipedia:Main Page featured article protection guideline. -- JHunterJ 11:06, 11 October 2007 (UTC)


Since the article appears to not be editable, We could mention here: Under the 'Influences' section, there are two plays by Shakespeare made into operas by Verdi. You left out Verdi's Macbeth. 03:11, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, it is left out, but there is good reason for doing so. The passage is about the fact that Otello and Falstaff have a critical standing that "compares with the source plays". Macbeth, an early Verdi work, does not. Paul B 09:45, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
The article is editable. A number of good edits by sharp-eyed, sophisticated and knowledgeable editors have stood after yesterday's editing spree, and the article is the better for it.qp10qp 10:42, 11 October 2007 (UTC)