Talk:William Shakespeare/Archive 2

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Old bill shakspeare's picture

heck no he didnt wear and earing those were for gay people back in those times ? (see the insert)

Do you have a problem with that?! The Singing Badger 01:59, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
My understanding is that earrings were not uncommon at the time. I don't believe there were any homosexual connotations. Phoenixrod 02:43, 28 February 2006 (UTC) The picture is likely authentic. Twocs 14:35, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

What time was it when Shakespeare died??Krazie 101

Shakspeare was bisexual 10:54 March 22, 2006

In Shakespeare's time, people who wore earings were condidered somewhat important/high on the social ladder.

Popular Culture

What? No references to influences to today's culture? That's insane! The most popular playwright of all time has no section on movies, music, art, etc, based on his work? I added a section on Shakespeare in Love, a movie I have heard of, never seen. That's all I can think of at the moment that has influenned him. Get with it Wikipedia! 18:03, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

There is an entire article devoted to his movies and movies about him and this is linked to from the article. See Shakespeare on screen. I also noted that you added some vandalism to the article.[1]--Alabamaboy 18:53, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

The chances of Shakepeare being gay/bisexual is very small. In the time period he lived in it was punishable by death. Most of the people who write poems dramatically dipict the place or person the writer is writing about. (the dark lord could have been a close friend).

Semi-protect page

As anyone who regularly edits this page knows, William Shakespeare is the target of frequent and anonymous vandalism. As an experiment, I'm going to semi-protect this page for a bit so only logged-in users can edit it. This appears to be done more on Wikipedia of late due to increasing vandalism. (However, opinion is very split over this, just see here and here). If anyone has a problem with this please let me know. Best, --Alabamaboy 14:40, 27 December 2005 (UTC)

Alabamaboy, did you find this experiment to improve matters? There are so many vandalisms of this page that I'm beginning to think permanent semi-protection is justified. The Singing Badger 14:21, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
My original experiment was overruled by some other admins after only a few hours, who said there wasn't enough vandalism of the page to justify the semi-protect. I think we should try it again b/c the vandalism has increased since then to a massive degree. I'll go ahead and semi-protect the page. Then we can evaluate the effort after a few days or a week.--Alabamaboy 15:30, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
I've semi-protected the page.--Alabamaboy 15:40, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
It's vandalized again. Apparently Shakespeare's an influence on your mom and has invaded Poland clintp
And I thought only the Reduced Shakespeare Company claimed that Shakespeare invaded Poland! :) But seriously, the semi-protect seems to be saving Wikipedians hours of reverting. -Phoenixrod 13:37, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

Stylistic classification

The following paragraph seems to get edited more than any other on this page, and you can tell why as, over time, it has become a bit of a mess:

Shakespeare's plays tend to be placed into three main stylistic groups: his early comedies and histories (such as A Midsummer Night's Dream and Henry IV, Part 1), his middle period (which includes his most famous tragedies, Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear), and his other romance, The Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet, and his later romances (such as The Winter's Tale and The Tempest). The earlier plays tend to be more light-hearted, while the middle-period plays tend to be darker, addressing such issues as betrayal, murder, lust, power, and egotism. By contrast, his late romances feature a redemptive plotline with a happy ending and the use of magic and other fantastical elements. However, the borders between these groups are extremely blurry.

Does anyone:

  1. Have a citation supporting this method of classifing the plays?
  2. Have any ideas about the fact that the classification seems to ignore the really early plays (Shrew, Gentlemen, Henry VI/Richard III, Titus, etc.)? I suppose they are in "early comedies and histories", but to my mind WS was in his prime as a writer when he got to 1H4 and Dream.
  3. Have an idea on how to unscramble "his other romance, the Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet"? Problems are: (1) Why "other"? Other to what? (2) Which of MoV and R&J is a romance and in what sense of the word? (3) Why a singular "romance" then two plays? (Edit history suggests this is not one editor's mistake, but a string of edits not-quite-dovetailing with each other.)

Maybe we should delete the paragraph altogether, if no-one has a better solution. AndyJones 11:12, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I think the paragraph is fine as is. This is a "general" grouping of his plays that is supported by the literature (yes, there are exceptions to the grouping but in general it holds). I'll see if I can find a reference--the bigger problem is that the entire article needs more references. Best, --Alabamaboy 14:25, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
Fair enough, but you won't satisfy me on my point 3 by leaving the paragraph as it is. If you're mainly happy, I propose deleting "and his ... Romeo and Juliet," to leave:
Shakespeare's plays tend to be placed into three main stylistic groups: his early comedies and histories (such as A Midsummer Night's Dream and Henry IV, Part 1), his middle period (which includes his most famous tragedies, Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear), and his later romances (such as The Winter's Tale and The Tempest). The earlier plays tend to be more light-hearted, while the middle-period plays tend to be darker, addressing such issues as betrayal, murder, lust, power, and egotism. By contrast, his late romances feature a redemptive plotline with a happy ending and the use of magic and other fantastical elements. However, the borders between these groups are extremely blurry.
...which I'll do today if there are no alternative suggestions. AndyJones 09:04, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. --Alabamaboy 14:08, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Done. AndyJones 02:17, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

I've often read that his plays were put into three catergories, Comedies, Histories and tragedies, by scholars. (For exampel, this is what it says in "Shakespeare for Dummies") :) MichelleGraabek 11:09, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Not quite; they were classified that way by his two fellow actors who put together his posthumous complete works in 1623. The Singing Badger 13:04, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Baptism date

Is April 26, 1564 New style or Old style? If it is old style, then the new style date of May 7 should be added with the OS template.--Fallout boy 20:47, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Nevermind, that's the OS date.--Fallout boy 20:49, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Why should the New Style date be mentioned at all? The Gregorian calendar wasn't even invented intil 1582, and was not used in England until 1752. TharkunColl 13:32, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

Shakespeare's youth Life

Did Shakespeare ever play in plays when he was little

He may have performed in Latin plays at school, but there is no concrete evidence. The Singing Badger 14:02, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

However, it is interesting to note that Stratford was a standard stop for traveling theatrical companies. Rowse once speculated that perhaps they came to Stratford one year, and left with an extra actor. That's a guess, of course, but a tempting one.

His best bed.

Didn't he bequeth his best bed to his wife after his death? I think I remember reading that.


No, it was his second best bed. The Singing Badger 01:26, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

The "second best bed" refers to the marriage bed. The "best bed" is the one reserved for guests.

Yes, or, at least, that is the common speculation derived from the terms of Shakespeare's will. AndyJones 19:15, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
... and from many other sources including wills made by english colonists in america
Since it was his will, I've wondered if he wasn't making a little joke about his coffin (which would, of course, be his best bed). Carlo 20:23, 14 May 2006 (UTC)


I've just done [this revert]. However, I'm still not happy with this presentation of the date. Firstly it looks ugly. Secondly it doesn't focus on the significance of 23rd April. Is there perhaps some Wikipedia policy about the presentation of dates? I'm copying this same question to the help desk. AndyJones 10:09, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

I think it is perhaps significant (and at least should be noted) that Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare coincidentally share the same death date, April 23, 1616.

Absolute Claims

Shakespeare is not the world's pre-eminent dramatist. This is a partial, anglo-centric statement that does not take into consideration dramatists from non-English or non-European cultures. Changed to "one of the world's pre-eminent dramatists".

  • Fair enough, and I haven't reverted you. However can you suggest a non-English language dramatist with comparable impact? AndyJones 11:40, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
    • Actually, the point is not fair. No other dramatist in Shakespeare's league can be named. His plays have been translated into nearly every language (if not all) and are performed across large numbers of cultures. If another playwright can be said to be even close to accomplishing all of this, please let us know. Otherwise, the original wording should stand.--Alabamaboy 21:40, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
      • Agree. Guinnog 21:42, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
        • I should add that the general crtical assessment of Shakespeare is that he is the "world's pre-eminent dramatist."--Alabamaboy 21:43, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
          • I see someone's put this back as it was. Inclined to agree. AndyJones 10:20, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
            • It should be regarded that there seems considerable evidence for suggesting that Shakespeare was not the most popular dramatist of his time, however. Remember that it was Edmund Spenser who became poet laurate, and Sir Philip Sidney whose critical writings were most resoected. He wasn't too popular with restoration theatre-goers, either, who far preferred the likes of Jonson. As for worldwide reception, the Japanese certainly have always found him rather verbose in comparison to say, Noh theatre. And to point out that there is wide translation ignores a predominance of Anglo-American culture in the world, a predominance that has existed for centuries. Other dramatists with considerable impact? What about Brecht or Ibsen, whose approaches have had enormous impact on 20th century theatre. And don't forget- Shakespeare did not pull his ideas out of nowhere. He is inspired by Bodaccio, Seneca, Petrarch (not a dramatist per se, but one whose poetic modes are certainly made reference to. 'No other dramatists in Shakespeare's league'? What of Webster, Middleton, Marlowe? Give some qualifications for your statements, at least. Sorry for a bit of a rant...Bosola 03:04, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
              • What criteria are you using to put Webster, Middleton and Marlowe in Shakespeare's league? They seem to be in different league altogether by any measure I can think of. The fact that Shakespeare had sources doesn't seem relevant to the question of his pre-eminence. You are right, of course, that he wasn't the most popular dramatist in his own time. Surely "wasn't too popular with resporation theatre goers" is putting it a bit strong: wikipedia tells me that in some seasons both London theatres were running competing versions of the same Shakespeare play. As for Brecht and Ibsen: I don't want to deny their greatness or their impact (I'm a bit of a Brechtian myself sometimes) but by any measure I can think of they are, again, not in the same league as Shakespeare who is studied in almost all secondary schools across the English-speaking world, and performed vastly more often than the other playwrights mentioned in your post.

Off the top of my head, a possibly equally eminent non-English language dramatist include Shakuntala, and Racine and possibly equally eminent non-English language poets include authors of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Mahabarata, Ramayana, Rabindranath Tagore. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 23:29, 12 April 2006.

This thread is reminding me of a similar one further down this page (see 'Weasel Words'). Bosola and the anonymous editor are questioning whether Shakespeare is the best dramatist. That's not the issue. We're talking about his reputation here. Middleton, Webster and Marlowe were cool, but they have never achieved a reputation as pre-eminent world dramatist. Shakespeare has. Certainly this wasn't true in his own time, and certainly the spread of Shakespeare across the world is primarily due to 19th century English imperialism, but it doesn't change the fact that today Shakespeare is a well-known name across the world in a way that Kalidasa and Zeami can't match. The Singing Badger 12:48, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Shakespeare's Existence

There are claims that Willliam Shakespeare really wasn't alive because there is no evidence of him, no pictures or anything, and that there are handwritten works signed by Shakespeare that have different handwriting. Can someone help enlighten me on this?

There is a picture of him (this one), and there's plenty of evidence about his life (read the Shakespeare's life article). I don't know what you mean about the handwritten works, I've never heard anything like that. The Singing Badger 22:18, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
A really excellent book on the whole subject is "Who Wrote Shakespeare" by John Michell. It discusses all the questions you've raised, and is aimed at ordinary readers, not experts. AndyJones 10:10, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Incidentally, it is true that there are no lifetime portraits of Shakespeare. The pic linked to by The Singing Badger above was commissioned for the first folio, some years after Shakespeare's death. They do say there's nothing in Shakespeare's own handwriting except a few scrawled and inconsistent signatures. However many academics believe that Shakespeare wrote an excerpt for a collaborative play called "Sir Thomas More". If they are right then a substantial passage in his handwriting does exist. AndyJones 10:18, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
the portrait is alleged to be that of shakespeare -- there is no proof that it is, it could be anybody or it could be a made-up drawing. it is very odd that there are virtually no examples of shakespeare's handwriting (other than a few signatures) you'd think the greatest writer in the english language would have left behind something, even just a sonnet or two. as for the "collaborative play" there is no proof that shakespeare wrote that in his own handwriting, it could have been written by anyone.
The portrait isn't just 'alleged' to be of Shakespeare. It's on the frontispiece of a book entitled Mr William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, a book that was put together by Shakespeare's fellow actors (who knew what he looked like), and features a poem underneath by Ben Jonson (who knew Shakespeare well), which says that it captures his appearance accurately. So the idea that it 'could be anybody' is very odd. For further proof, you can look at Shakespeare's funerary monument, erected in Stratford (by people who knew him), which shows the same guy as the picture.
You would think the greatest writer in the English language would have left behind some manuscript writing ... except that Shakespeare wasn't considered the greatest writer in his own day. Plus, he was a playwright, and you're hard pressed to find the handwriting of any playwright from the period. Nobody cared to preserve this stuff. It's a shame. The Singing Badger 17:50, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
On the subject of there being no likeness of Shakespeare from his lifetime, let's not forget the Grafton portrait [2] (which, in spite of the content of the link, I still think could be a contender, as does Peter Ackroyd). I'm no expert on physiognomy, but I can imagine the man in the Grafton portrait looking like the one in Martin Droeshout's engraving when he's much older. HAM SaintPierre4.JPG 15:47, 8 June 2006 (UTC)


Shakespeare spent most of his adult life in London, and did all of his commercial and much of his personal writing there. Most of the London he had lived in burned in the Great Fire of 1666. No one knows how much of the private-sector correspondence of Shakespeare and his contemporaries had survived up until that point. Bigturtle 17:20, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

help me complete a quote

hi, i was wondering if you guys ever heard of this quote by william shakespeare " let go the dogs of war ____________________" please help me complete it

You may be thinking of this quote from Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene I: "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!". Cheers JackofOz 05:34, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

thanks i am graaeful to you. thanks many thanks. i also want to ask did you ever see romeo and juliet play. i have seen it so many times it is always intresting that romeo is drinking poison while juliet is going to awaken you can see her hand twiitch and i think that she should wake up and stop romeo but that never occurs. thanks KRANZYTZ OKTYABAR

I believe you mean William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, the 1996 movie directed by Baz Luhrmann? Yes, I saw it. Anville 21:11, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
I doubt the questioner was asking about any one film version. You wouldn't watch the same film over and think it might turn out different than the last time you saw it. They were comparing different film and/or stage versions (they said 'play'). The hand twitching is part of the dramatic tricks that stage and film directors use to heighten the tension - the audience is aware Juliet is not dead but Romeo isn't. For those who don't know how the story ends (and even those who do), it's a great "if only" moment. There's no such direction in the play itself, by the way. JackofOz 22:37, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

thanks again for replying did you ever see the movie hamlet i wnated to know how the play is and its story so kindly if anyone of you have ever seen it cold you tell me how is it.

Have a look at our article on the play. JackofOz 23:57, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

thanks again

to jackofoz hi i saw in your profile that you are a australian have you ever gone to sydney if yes have you seen the opera house in sydne. thanks

Yes, and yes. It's best to direct personal questions to my talk page. JackofOz 03:24, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

iam ver sorry i hope you can forgive me.

"To err is human, to forgive divine" (That's Alexander Pope, by the way, not Shakespeare) JackofOz 12:38, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

did you ever see the movie shakespare in love it was a good movie


I suspect this is an editing error:

Lady Magdalen Montague, a well known Catholic and a bulwark of English Catholicism was a prominent patron of the Bard, and is even found within his plays Romeo and Juliet, A Winter's Tale and Comedy of Errors.

But can someone confirm that? The (apparent) assertion that Catholicism is found in A Winter's Tale is plain wrong. The religion is supposedly ancient Greek. Some speculate that the 'magic statue' is based on the Virgin Mary, but as noted on the play's talk page there is no 'magic statue', and merely echoing the concept of a shrine in the play doesn't make him Catholic. (Any more than the play provides evidence that Shakespeare believed in the Delphic Oracle.)--Jack Upland 10:01, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

I can't quite parse what that sentence is trying to say. The name "Montague" in Romeo and Juliet is an Anglicization of the Montecchi in Luigi da Porto's version (circa 1530), last I heard. Anville 10:28, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I suspect the sentence is (or contains) a mistake. I'll remove it, pending someone coming here with a source &/or a correction. AndyJones 13:27, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

we found out that shakespeare has written most of his popular theatre plays when he has been drunk or has taken drugs

in addition to that his mother was a prostitute!!!

Yes. He was a whoreson mad fellow! AndyJones 11:12, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Date of birth/death

I have a question!!! How is it possible that Shakespeare was baptised on May 7, his birthday was settled on May 4. The day he died was May 3 but how is it possible that Shakespaere died on he same date he was born! If you talkin about New Style it's impossible that birtday and death are on the same date!!!It's quiet confussing.

(thx Mischa) Muwa
  • It's perfectly possible. Especially if the birth and death are in different years, as in this case. Guinnog 23:11, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
    • Yes, born 1564, died 1616. One chance in 365 of it happening on the same day of the year. As I have mentioned above, though, the presentation of the date IS confusing. Would anyone object to me putting:
(baptised 26 April 1564, died 23 April 1616 [NEW STYLE baptised 7 May 1564, died 4 May 1616])
or similar? AndyJones 10:12, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
      • After a lot of fuss, we've now got new style dates of May 3rd and 6th. Gregorian calendar confirms May 3rd as correct - but that is circular: using Wikipedia as a source. Whoever came here first clearly thought it was May 4th and 7th. Can somebody who knows something about this please comment? Will post something at Gregorian calendar, too. AndyJones 16:43, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

The Gregorian calendar was not invented until 1582, so why mention it at all for Shakespeare's birth? And it wasn't used in England until 1752, so why mention it for his death? As for the correct conversion, during the 16th and 17th centuries there was a ten day difference, so the 3rd and 6th are correct. During the 18th century the difference rose to 11 days. It was 12 days during the 19th century, and is currently 13 days for both the 20th and 21st centuries. TharkunColl 16:51, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

  • Great, thanks for your help. Yes, I share your doubts about metioning it at all. However at least one editor has interpreted WP:DATE as saying that is Wikipedia policy. AndyJones 20:48, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
    • TharkunColl, I agree with you about the baptism date. The Gregorian calendar has no relevance here at all. I prefer to show both dates for the death, since a lot of Europe had converted by 1616 and we need to show the date as other countries would have perceived it. JackofOz 21:44, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
      • Are you actually proposing that we convert one but not the other? AndyJones 22:08, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

Ok what i know about Shakespeare is that he was born on April 23 and died April 23 1616..... sssoooo if its not true then please clarify....... 08:05, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

yeah like they said he was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616. Sheila dd88 08:09, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

  • Shakespeare died on 23rd April 1616. Nobody knows when he was born, but he was baptised on 26th April 1564, so a tradition has grown up that he was probably born on the same day of the year that he died: 23rd April 1564. Does that clear it up? AndyJones 13:45, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

I think it's a little stronger than that, insofar as it was standard practice in those days for baptisms to occur three days after birth. Still not proof, of course. Also, according to the historical writer Graham Phillips, Shakespeare was with fellow dramatist Ben Jonson on the day he died, celebrating his birthday. Mind you, Phillips also claims that Shakespeare was murdered by Sir Walter Raleigh. TharkunColl 15:44, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

A baby was normally baptised 3 days after birth. (thats how they got the asumed birth date)

New portal

Just to let everyone know, there is now a new Portal:Shakespeare, written by User:James.kendall. Feel free to contribute. --Khoikhoi 00:58, 12 February 2006 (UTC)


I object to this line especially: "Shakespeare is considered by many to be the greatest writer in the English language, as well as one of the greatest in Western literature, and the world's pre-eminent dramatist." Courier new 16:20, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

I think you are right on with this one. Wikiarticles have way too many "considered by many" lines of crap. We should stick to the facts - and cite them. Rklawton 16:25, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
I sympathize with the need to avoid vague attribution, but I think some mention of Shakespeare's preeminent status ought to be made in the lead. --Muchness 18:03, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree that there are many times when statements like this do not apply. But in Shakespeare's case, the overwhelming critical and popular sentiment from around the world is that this is the case. In this case, these are not weasel words, they are fact.--Alabamaboy 18:07, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
It won't kill me to leave it in. However, part of greatness is not having to say it.The preceding unsigned comment was added by Rklawton (talk • contribs) .
I, too, agree that there are weasel words here. However Shakespeare is the most significant writer who has ever lived, verifiable by any number of measures. The opening paragraph of an article about him doesn't become more encyclopedic by failing to mention the fact. AndyJones 20:08, 21 February 2006 (UTC) (PS, strongly disagree with "part of greatness is not having to say it". This is an encylopedia. Saying it is what we do.)

Would you please make similar posts on the Cambridge University talk page. Courier new 22:15, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

Why? AndyJones 22:52, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
You replied on my talk page. I'll think about it. Meantime, I'm sure we haven't solved this problem, if indeed there is a problem. Shakespeare is the world's most significant writer. Failing to say so in the opening sentence of his encylopedia article does no-one any services. (Especially on the grounds that "People can determine that for themselves" - no, this is an encyclopedia, we need to tell them.) My opinion is that we should return to the former wording, possibly with mild modification, or some footnotes, to avoid weasel words. I will make that change later today unless someone gets there before me, or someone with a better argument than User:Courier new's comes along. AndyJones 11:02, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
PS excellent work by User:Bwithh, although I wonder if perhaps that's too much for the introduction and might be better in the body of the article. I'm not going to make that change - just raising it for other editors to consider. AndyJones 11:02, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree with you on both counts; I've restored the assertion of notability and provisionally shifted Bwithh's excellent contribution to Wikiquote. Feel free to incorporate the quotes back into the body of the article. --Muchness 12:49, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
I definitely think it's vital that the standard reading of Shakespeare's importance be in the opening paragraph. As Andy said, it's an encyclopedia, and the role of an encyclopedia is to tell people the obvious things they should know about a person. I guess it's possible to find a list of scholars who believe Shakespeare to be the world's preeminent dramatist, but I think that's sort of beside the point. He's considered the best, we know he's considered the best, it's painfully clear he's considered the best, we should put it in. Makemi 16:45, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Since the consensus here seems to be that we should at least introduce his relative status at the outset (and upon reconsideration, I tend to agree with at least that much), then I took it upon myself to remove Courrier's weasel tag. Aside from some mild recommendations for moderation (following the introduction), this article requires only minor change and isn't deserving of the weasel tag. Let's consider specific edits and continue along with the routine process of continuous improvement. Rklawton 18:01, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Is Shakespeare universally considered the world's pre-eminent dramatist, or just in the English-speaking world? I know that the French considered him second-rate for a long time, and many French critics (e.g. Voltaire) preferred Racine. And what about Lope de Vega in Spain? Or, umm, Schiller and Goethe in Germany? I do have the sense that, due to a particularly good translation, Shakespeare is widely respected in Germany, but we should still be careful when discussing literature about asserting as general truths things which are actually only truths to the anglophone community. john k 19:58, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
You make an excellent point. I would support qualifying it with "English-language dramatist", or "in the English-speaking world". I meant to qualify it, but that durn bias of my own experience keeps creeping in :) Makemi 20:21, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Hi, i was wondernig if you could answer this question about shakespear's lives it is said that in his college years he played a prank on his professor is it true. thanks bond, james bond

Weasel Words

This article, filled with weasel words, clearly violates Wikipedia's standards for quality. Courier new 01:08, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Do you have any suggestions for improvements? The Singing Badger 02:18, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I have the same question. Complaining about weasel words is legitimate, but your only suggestions for dealing with the problem, so far, have involved deleting an important comment on the grounds that it is supported by weasel words. Could you please quote some sentences that contain weasel words, and then propose some improvement? It is clear to me that the regular editors on this page don't consider this to be a big problem. It follows that complaining about the problem to the people already here will not get it solved. That responsibility is therefore on you. AndyJones 09:53, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
PS Note, though, that I've done a bit of editing on this page today but I've allowed the {weasel} tag to stand, temporarily, to see what comments it attracts. AndyJones 10:40, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Actually, if you see the discussion previous to this you will see (in a response to this came editor) that the consensus of editors here is that the article does not use weasel words. The consensus is that the article is NPOV and factual. I challenge Courier new to name one writer whose works have been translated into more languages, whose works are performed more often in the world each day, whose works are adapted to more formats like movies, than Shakespeare. I agree that words like "greatest" and "most experts agree" should not be used too often in an encyclopdia but in this case that IS the accepted acadamic and literary consensus. In addtion, the template should NOT be allowed to remain when the consensus among editors here is that the article is NPOV. All of that said, the article would benefit greatly from inline citations. Anyone feeling up to that?--Alabamaboy 13:25, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

One more point: Courier new is a new user, most of whose edits have been on talk pages where he/she rants at times about Wikipedia not being a reliable source of info. For example, here [3] and [4]. Other editors have also claimed that Courier new is adding POV templates and challenges on numerous articles without evidence or anything to backup the claim. [5]. Finally, it also appears that Courier new is using the Shakespeare article to make a point, which is proved by this comment where he states, "Personally, I find Shakespeare to be terribly overrated. His characters have little depth."[6]. Since making edits to prove a point is against Wikipedia guidelines, I suggest we move beyond this editor's challenges to this article. --Alabamaboy 15:24, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

I do wish Courier New would explain himself more- what does he mean when he says that Shakespeare's characters have "little depth"? Does he have concrete examples? Or is it just more of his sophomoric provocateurism? Perhaps it tells us more about Courier New than about Shakespeare? I'm afraid I may have inspired Courier New to have come to this page by raising the subject of Shakespeare in my discussion on the Cambridge page as indicated by Alabamaboy. I tried to help the Shakespeare page with this contribution though. I see that this effort of mine was shifted to Wikiquote - fine, but perhaps the lead paragraph here could link to the wikiquote section (Which could be expanded greatly beyond the few quotes I selected.), then people could see that so-called "weasel words" are actually backed up by the perspectives of many notable people throughout the centuries. Incidentally, here is the Shakespeare entry lead passage from the Microsoft Network Encarta Encyclopedia: "William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English playwright and poet, recognized in much of the world as the greatest of all dramatists. Hundreds of editions of his plays have been published, including translations in all major languages. Scholars have written thousands of books and articles about his plots, characters, themes, and language. He is the most widely quoted author in history, and his plays have probably been performed more times than those of any other dramatist.

There is no simple explanation for Shakespeare’s unrivaled popularity, but he remains our greatest entertainer and perhaps our most profound thinker. He had a remarkable knowledge of human behavior, which he was able to communicate through his portrayal of a wide variety of characters. He was able to enter fully into the point of view of each of his characters and to create vivid dramatic situations in which to explore human motivations and behavior. His mastery of poetic language and of the techniques of drama enabled him to combine these multiple viewpoints, human motives, and actions to produce a uniquely compelling theatrical experience."

I think that Encarta passage needs reworking in a number of ways - its rather over the top here and there ("our greatest entertainer", "our most profound thinker"), but I think (As noted in the Cambridge discussion) that Encyclopedias would be impoverished as educational devices if they were fanatically NPOV. Bwithh 15:40, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

It really is not necessary for me to have to argue against the use of such wording when others, representing the consensus of editors, have set the policy (see {{shortcut|WP:WEASEL). Why should an exception to the standard be made for this article? It seems unfair to the members of Wikipedia, who work to uphold this standard, and to the readers of these articles, who do not have patience for being spoonfeed biased information.

It is, of course, important to always remember that the perceived quality of Shakespeare's work is not inherent but wholly subjective. If you want to express your opinions on Shakespeare, this is not the proper forum (see Courier new 17:13, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

That's not unarguably obviously correct - it may be obvious on the other hand that the perceived quality (rather than the repuation) of a literary work *is* to some degree inherent and is not wholly subjective. That's why sophisticated literature from different cultures can be understood and celebrated in other cultures. One can reasonably dislike Shakespeare, one reasonably may find the work overrated and boring, but suggesting that it seriously "lacks depth" or complexity or fluency or sophistication is another thing all together. In addition, beyond the inherent critical quality of a work, there is a point were there is such a widely held opinion in society that it becomes a significant and widely consequential factor of that society. Courier New seems to be attached to an utterly inflexible and nihilist relativist view of cultural value. Bwithh 22:01, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
There is nothing POV about stating that the critical view of Shakespeare is that he "is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, as well as one of the greatest in Western literature, and the world's pre-eminent dramatist." This is the overwhelming critical assessment of Shakespeare and to not state this would be unencyclopedic. The Encarta passage Bwithh quotes from is similar to ALL other major encyclopedia entries on Shakespeare. And, as I said, based on your own statements you are editing this article to make a point about Shakespeare's writings, which is not allowed here. --Alabamaboy 18:22, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Regardless of Courier New's motives, I think he/she is making a valid point. Courier New is concerned that the article is saying that Shakespeare is the greatest dramatist. That is clearly POV. But if we can find a wording that stresses that his status as 'greatest writer' is not an objective fact but rather an idea about Shakespeare that is present in world culture (even people who have never read or seen one of his plays will still be aware that they are 'supposed' to think he is the greatest writer), then we will succeed in being encyclopaedic and unbiased. A possible rewording is to use the phrase 'Shakespeare has a reputation as the world's greatest writer'. Can anyone think of something better than that? The Singing Badger 18:45, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

I disagree that there is a POV problem here. However, I'd be okay with adding the word "reputation" (although that is splitting hairs to me, but since it doesn't change the overall meaning the word is ok). An alternative is to state that he "is widely regarded by literary critics as ..." --Alabamaboy 18:51, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm fine with modifying with "reputation" too. Bwithh 22:01, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Please don't remove the tags. If you insist on keeping weasel words in the article, then people should be warned. Courier new 20:36, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

As I've said over at the Cambridge discussion, you are not the sole authority above any consensus. Please do not ignore other people's discussion and efforts Bwithh 22:01, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

I removed the following from the article – "He is also often referred to as the most quoted writer in English-speaking or even world history" – because I think it's best not to add more vague / unsourced attribution while this dispute is on-going. --Muchness 21:54, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I'm adding it back with references. There's a ton of them on google. Bwithh 22:01, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
The most quoted factoid seems to be sourced from the Oxford English Dictionary (Which has the databases to statistically survey this kind of thing). I have reference to a OED brochure which briefly mentions Shakespeare. i will try to find a more detailed source Bwithh 22:25, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

So I've backed up the lead with support references from several encyclopedias and the Oxford English Dictionary (wonderful day that wikipedia has to depend on other encyclopedias to support its authority, but these are the times we live in). On the other hand, perhaps since all these encyclopedias report so much opinion, they really belong as entries on, as Courier New suggests Bwithh 22:23, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Also - some suggestions for further back up material - 1) add university courses on Shakespeare which celebrate him 2) Expand the wikiquote section. Bwithh 22:27, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Incidentally, the article Shakespeare's reputation is very good for supporting material. I';ve only just read it myself. Perhaps others haven;t seen it yet? Perhaps it should be referenced int he lead passage here. Bwithh 22:31, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

I appreciate all the hard work, Bwithh, but the lead is now very awkward. From Oxford's New American Dictionary, would serve well as a template: "Shakespeare |ˈ sh ākˌspi(ə)r| Shakespeare, William(1564–1616), English playwright. His plays are written mostly in blank verse and include comedies, historical plays, the Greek and Roman plays, enigmatic comedies, the great tragedies, and the group of tragicomedies with which he ended his career. He also wrote more than 150 sonnets, which were published in 1609, as well as narrative poems." Pithy, informative, free of biased statements -- it is all of these things. Thanks Courier new 00:47, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

This is not a dictionary, it's an encyclopedia. Encyclopedias do not have to be pithy. One of their jobs is to present all the information there is about a subject. An encyclopedia that failed to mention that Shakespeare has a reputation as the greatest writer (note that I'm not saying that he is the greatest writer, just that he is reputed to be) would be failing in its duty. William Shakespeare is regularly called the greatest writer ever; Thomas Middleton, Margaret Atwood and Aeschylus are not. This is an important difference that needs noting. If you want to persuade us that you're right, find an encyclopedia that fails to mention Shakespeare's reputation for greatness. The Singing Badger 01:33, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

I am going to warn Courier new not to keep reverting the article by adding that template in over and over. This discussion here is fixing the so-called issue he raised and if he keeps reverting he will violate the 3RR rule, resulting in a block. Otherwise, the edits to this article seem to be addressing this POV issue while also retaining vital information. I also love all the new references. Thanks for the excellent work.--Alabamaboy 01:27, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

  • I have nothing new to add to the debate, this morning, but I want to add my endorsement to Alabamaboy's, above, for all the excellent work being done here. AndyJones 11:02, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Nontruths do not belong in an encyclopedia. Handy references from

Courier new 21:56, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

(copy/pasted material from above links deleted; it was adversely affecting the talk page's formatting and readability – see diff for original post) --Muchness 23:26, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Response: I'm probably going to regret responding to such an eccentric post, but Courier New, could you clarify something? What 'untruth' are you complaining about? Are you saying it is untrue that Shakespeare is the greatest author in the world, or are you saying that it is untrue that he is frequently claimed to be the greatest author? The latter is what the article currently says. Is that what you are disputing? Please try to express yourself more clearly. The Singing Badger 23:05, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Both. It would be redundant to explain why both statements do not impart any truth, so I will not. Courier new 23:39, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Sorry Courier, some of us here aren't as smart as you, so you'll have to do better than that. Are you saying (a) Shakespeare does not have a reputation as the greatest author? or are you saying (b) the fact that many famous people have claimed Shakespeare to be the greatest author does not prove that he is? Your wording implies the latter, but I'm not sure. These are quite different issues, so once we understand what your specific complaint is, we can address it better. The Singing Badger 23:53, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

What I mean to say is that you cannot prove the first and if you somehow could, which I will again stress that you cannot, it would still not prove anything and would therefore be nothing more than a vacuous statement. Also, it is not necessary to be sarcastic. Courier new 01:55, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

It isn't necessary to be obstreperous either, so let's move on. Could you please explain why it is impossible to prove that Shakespeare has a reputation for being the greatest writer. If you were saying 'there can be no such thing as the greatest writer because it's all subjective' I would agree wholeheartedly with you. But that doesn't mean that when a writer is regularly lauded as such we should pretend it never happened.
Think of it this way. If I hunted high and low, I would never find anyone who claimed that Thomas Dekker was the greatest writer who has ever lived. Sorry Dekker, but that's the way it is. Yet I can find plenty of great thinkers who have adulated Shakespeare (see the Wikiquote reference that somebody put into the article for a few examples). We thus have a quantifiable difference between a writer who has never been claimed as the greatest, and a writer who often has. How, then, can you say that Shakespeare's reputation is the same as Dekker's?! It simply isn't. And once again I am not talking about the quality of Shakespeare's work, only the common cultural myths and beliefs about it.
Please explain yourself. I really am baffled by you. The Singing Badger 02:39, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

How can you prove that no person has ever claimed Dekker to be the greatest writer? Simply, you cannot (see Some questions I am curious to have answered: since we do not know who these persons are, how can we determine if they have any expertise; and is a belief made right if its acceptance is perceived to be ubiquitous? Courier new 04:53, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

It can't be proved that Shakespeare has a reputation as the greatest English writer in the same sense that it can't be proved Shakespeare ever existed (literary hoax, the body is of someone else). But we know he did exist, and we equally know his reputation. 11:49, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm sorry Courier, but there are some hurdles you need to get over before this conversation can continue.
First, you're writing about the article as it was, not as it is. There is now a nice link showing you that such people as Larry Olivier, Nabokov and D.H. Lawrence have celebrated Shakespeare as the greatest writer. Furthermore, you can settle down to read the lengthy Shakespeare's reputation article, helpfully linked to in the opening paragraph, which will give you a huge array of famous literary critics and writers who hold the same belief. Do they have the expertise you are seeking? If not, who does?
Secondly, you ask "is a belief made right if its acceptance is perceived to be ubiquitous?". This is where I start to get bored, because you are still convinced that this article is trying to prove that Shakespeare is the greatest writer. It isn't. It's simply trying to state the quantifiable fact that there is a widespread myth about Shakespeare's supremacy.
And this really is quantifiable, you know. May I politely suggest that you undertake a survey of secondary school curricula in various western countries. I would like you to count the number that require their pupils to read a Shakespeare play, and the number that don't. While you're doing it, count the number that spurn Shakespeare in favour of Thomas Dekker. I know what you'll find (and so do you, I suspect): you'll find that virtually all of them require Shakespeare to be read, and none of them Dekker. Then I would like you to ponder what this tells us about Shakespeare's reputation (not, I repeat with a bored and weary expression, what it tells us about his quality, but what that quality is reputed to be by mainstream educators). Why do I ask you to do the work and not do it myself? Because having been through the school system I know perfectly well what the answer will be; but if I'm wrong, by all means dissuade me. The Singing Badger 13:15, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
I think the fundamental problem with Courier New's arguments is that if they were accepted then no normative comment could find its way into an encyclopedia at all. Of course Shakespeare's greatness is subjective. So are the opinions of everyone who ever thought he was great, and the opinions of everyone who ever thought he wasn't. But NPOV isn't about excluding huge swathes of human knowledge on the grounds that they cannot be proved "true" in some objective sense. It is about presenting those ideas in an unbiased way.
Anyway, at this point, I think I have to bow out of this thread. I will continue to edit the page, but I don't want to continue to engage with a debate which has (in my entirely subjective opinion) got silly. AndyJones 13:55, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Courier sounds like a college student who just took his first class in logic and debate. Hilarious. Still, that doesn't change the fact that he is caught in a logical loop and is adding nothing to this discussion. I agree with AndyJones and believe this debate has gone off the deep end. In my opinion, consensus on this issue has been achieved and I think the article is much better than it was. --Alabamaboy 13:58, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

I think Courier did make a valid and useful point that citations were needed in the opening paragraph. This has now been done, and the article is better for it. But I agree that he/she is now just being sophomoric. The Singing Badger 14:59, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
I second that comment about citations and also thank Courier for helping us achieve them.--Alabamaboy 15:04, 28 February 2006 (UTC)


I just did a comparison of the current version of this page with its version from a few days ago. The "Works" section has disappeared. Is that deliberate or a piece of vandalism? Sorry to raise it here, but I don't have the time to investigate in detail. AndyJones 13:38, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

It was vandalism that got missed in the unceasing flow of vandalism. I've fixed it. The Singing Badger 14:17, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
The same thing happened a month or two back. A vandal deleted an entire section of the article and none of us noticed for at least two weeks. That's the downside to repeated high levels of vandalism. It appears to me that this is one of the most vandalized articles on Wikipedia (I believe George W. Bush is the top one).--Alabamaboy 14:43, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Erm... is there an upside to high vandalism levels? :S The Singing Badger 16:00, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Ha! Good point. Don't know why I used that cliche to open that sentence :-).--Alabamaboy 16:56, 17 March 2006 (UTC)


I think everyone will agree that the semi-protection has been a success, with zero vandalism since this was done on March 16. That said, the policy of Wikipedia is to not let articles be semi-protected indefinately. I'm going to remove the protect in a moment and we'll see if the anonymous vandalism returns at the previous high levels. If it does, I'll semi-protect it again after a day or two. If I have to semi-protect again, I'll leave the protection up for a longer time.

BTW, my theory on why this articles gets hit so much is because there are so many high school students reading Shakespeare. Guess the Bard is still touching a nerve with kids :-).--Alabamaboy 16:43, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

I definitely support the semi-protection. If you semi-protect the article again, maybe leave it up until school term ends? (i.e. June?) The Singing Badger 16:59, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
The first vandalism after semi-protection was lifted occurred after only 18 minutes. [7] The Singing Badger 17:10, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
I'll aim for doing that. In some ways, this is a stategic chess move. By showing that we tried to not semi-protect the article all the time, we strengthen the case for leaving the semi-protect up for a longer period of time in the future.--Alabamaboy 17:37, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
My only question, really, is whether I can make good edits to a protected page? AndyJones 13:26, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
It's only protected from anonymous or new users, so you'll be fine. The Singing Badger 14:01, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Yes, only protected against anonymous and users who have been on Wikipedia less than 4 days. At this point, though, it doesn't appear that I'll be able to semi-protect the article. We're no longer seeing the levels of vandalism we had before I semi-protected it. This makes me wonder if we had one or two anonymous vandals who were targeting the article. Anyway, I'll keep and eye on the article and if vandalism approached previous levels I will immediately semi-protect it.--Alabamaboy 14:15, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

I believe vandalism has reached earlier levels. I'm going to semi-protect the article again.--Alabamaboy 21:07, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Good choice. Just to give some figures, I counted approximately 40 vandalisms between 21 and 24 of March. We also had more than one instance of vandalism being missed going unnoticed for a while due to the high volumes. I think this justifies keeping semi-protection on permanently (or at least until the schools are on vacation)... The Singing Badger 21:21, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Agreed, good choice. I tend to think that semi-protection is going to slowly drift in the direction of preventing new users from editing articles though. I can see a day when anon IPs can't edit, only registered users, and only that after they've been registered for a few days and confirmed their registration with a valid e-mail address bounce back. Note; I'm not advocating that, just stating that I think that's where we are ultimately headed. --Durin 00:35, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

I have just unprotected this again. It is important to try this much regularly than every few months, and it is important to try this with the full intention of allowing wiki editing to happen freely. Anons can edit: ergo they can vandalise and this has to be tolerated sometimes. This article gets busy, but it is much less busy than some articles which spend the bulk of their time unsprotected. There is no case for a permanent semi-protect since that is not supported in WP:SEMI, or by the very many discussions that have taken place at Talk:George W. Bush where the idea faces permanent opposition. It's just that the editors of that article are particularly insistent. -Splashtalk 21:41, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I disagree. This article has a level of vandalism that compares with the Bush article. As you may have seen from the history here, I removed the semi-protect not too long after the first protection period and kept it off for several days to see if the vandalism would drop down to a lower level. It did not so I semi-protected again and had planned on removing the sp next week to see what happened. The consensus of editors here is to keep the article semi-protected for long periods. That said, we'll see what happens now that it is unprotected. I will, though, semi-protect it again if vandalism jumps back to previous levels and if the consensus of the article's editors is to do so. Best, --Alabamaboy 21:45, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Men playing older women

I've been asked to source the contention that older women may have been played by men. It will probably remain "boys" since my source is an online scholarly Shakespeare discussion list (SHAKSPER) which includes more than a few academes, and which I participate in. The question sometimes comes up ( and is considered at least a possibility by some. But since it isn't an actual publication, it probably doesn't count. Carlo 03:33, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

The people on the discussion thread are academics, but it remains the case that they're just saying 'I think...' without providing any evidence. To the best of my knowledge there is no concrete evidence for men playing women, only boys. But if you can find anything, add it in! The Singing Badger 04:17, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I was at a conference in Stratford a couple of weeks ago, where the lecturer made the point that the "boys" of the acting companies would have been aged about 14 to 24, so the perception I think we get from the use of the word "boys" - that female parts were played by youngsters whose voices had not yet broken - is wrong. I'll see if I can find a source for this. Also, Carlo, there's no reason not to mention this thread at Shaksper and ask for a source there, if you like. Give them a link to this page. It seems logical to me, from modern productions, that older women would have been played by men not boys. I've seen a male Mistress Overdone, for example: not a part you'd give to a youth. AndyJones 12:26, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Andy's point is important, although much of the debate over this question involves those who believe that roles like Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth are so sophisticated that they could only have been performed by mature men (as opposed to teenagers or twentysomethings). This is a popular belief, but there's no evidence for it. Books on the subject include Michael Shapiro's Children of the Revels and Joy Leslie Gibson's Squeaking Cleopatras, if anyone has access to them. The Singing Badger 13:24, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Religion section

I have repaired the religion bit as best I can and removed the quote from the franky quite awful Catholic encyclopedia that said atheism was rampant. It makes it sound like a disease. It is due to a misunderstanding of the culture of early seventeenth century England. Protestant religious tracts were always mentioning atheism as a danger but there are few recorded incidences of what we would call atheism. Even in Marlowe it may have been an attempt to blacken his name. I put some information in there. Maybe someone wants to try to make it read better.

I had a go, but this section is still bloody awful. If anyone has time to check some sensible biographies of Shakespeare such as Park Honan's or Samuel Schoenbaum's, some better documentation of this section could be provided. The Singing Badger 13:42, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

You have almost certainly made things a great deal worse. A great volume of work has been written upon religious preambles. Notably - Attitudes to will making in early modern England - Marsh or - Religious preambles and the scribes of villagers wills in Cambridgeshire - Spufford. Not to mention the fact that a great deal of the famous A.G Dickens work on the reformation was based on the pioneering analysis of religious preambles. You would not think them unimportant if you knew the ammount of discussion they generated. Religious preambles or the bequest of the soul was not an after-thoughtin a mans will. It came first in the will and was not something that any serious religious man would take lightly. Certainly not something to leave to one's lawyer. Although historical writing does question the usefulness of wills I have never heard them dismissed so completely as to say 'they were all the same anyway'. They were not a formality. They could be strongly Catholic mentioning Mary or the holy company or strongly protestant mentioning the assurance of salvation etc. As such Shakespeares will falls into the ambiguous category. I would suggest far from telling us nothing it tells us that he certainly did not care about whether or not he was a Catholic as much as we do.

As For Edmund Mallone and the document in question. It was linked to John Jordan who was according to the Oxford dictionary of biography 'a Stratford man well known for inventing materials to satisfy the increasing thirst for Shakespeariana' which according to the dictionary puts the document under suspicion. Apparently Mallone also 'later came to doubt its authenticity' so that 'the evidence for John's being a Catholic is very far from decisive'.

Well, forgive my rudeness, and please return the stuff that you think is important. But since you seem to have the facts at your fingertips, please give proper citations (with page numbers) when you are quoting the authors you cite. Proper referencing is what the section badly needs, so that others can double-check the information you provide. The Singing Badger 16:56, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, didn't mean it to sound quite that strident. When I find out how to do footnotes on wikipedia i'll try and put some in. I agree with you about the footnotes. It must be said that in this article is fairly well footnoted compared with the rest of wikipedia which is poorly referenced. I find that the maths and science articles along with some of the more obscure stuff is fairly good largely because they get written by one person, who by necessity knows something about what he or she is doing. Those who know little about it never really go and edit the technical subjects either because they never know about it to look it up or admit it goes over their heads. The history is terrible, especially the military history, because anyone who has ever seen a documentary about tanks comes along to have a go at it, and everybody thinks they know something about Shakespeare. Even amateurs like me think we do. No one will ever admit that history or literature is above them but it is perfectly acceptable to be ignorant of science or mathmatics. Wikipedia is writing by comitee and as such it is hard to ever strike a consistant tone throughout, hence Shakespeare gets dragged one way then the other from Protestant to Catholic depending on whos editing. I have no idea what Shakespeare believed, nor do I claim to know anything about him or his plays or literature in general.

Absolutely, couldn't agree more - let's see if we can improve this page at least! Solid citations are one way to prevent partisan editing. By the way, if you type four tildes after your messages ( ~~~~ ) it will automatically sign the message with your name and the date, so that people can distinguish your posts from those of others. The Singing Badger 20:05, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
I am going to reinsert the Catholic Encyclopedia item because I see no reason to delete it. The item is referenced and factual and provides a nice counterpoint to the arguement that Shakespeare was Catholic. I also hope you will register for an account here. Best, --Alabamaboy 20:01, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
I dunno about the Catholic Encyclopedia item; it begs a lot of questions, e.g. what 'rampant atheism', and is there rampant atheism in Shakespeare's plays? Sure, it's 'referenced' in the sense that it's in a book, but we need something less generalized - I'm sure people have argued that Shakespeare was not religious, but we need a more helpful quote than that one. :( The Singing Badger 20:13, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

New citations style

I have just finished converting all of the citations in this article to the the new <ref> element. (more details at Wikipedia:Footnotes) While the technical background on why this citation style works can be long and complicated, here's the easy thing to do: If you cite something, write up your citation as you want it to look in the footnotes, place <ref> at the start of the note, </ref> at the end, then place the whole thing at the exact point in the article where you want the citation. Nothing else needs to be done. See examples within the article for how this is done. Best, --Alabamaboy 20:21, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

I also hope everyone interested in this article will vote for its inclusion in the Wikipedia Article Improvement Drive. Let's get this article to Featured Article status.--Alabamaboy 20:30, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

World of Biography

Hi, I would like to add an external link to the World of Biography entry (www DOT worldofbiography DOT com/0061%2DWilliam%20Shakespeare William Shakespeare Biography) probably the most famous portal of biography to this article. Does anybody have any objections? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jameswatt (talkcontribs)

  • I think I'd revert that as linkspam. They have lots of ads, but not much useful information: far less than Wikipedia has, for instance. AndyJones 15:48, 14 April 2006 (UTC)
Stop hand.png

please do not add this to the article, and please read the incident report before giving the go-ahead. This is spam and not link-worthy under WP:EL; the articles contain many distortions, lack citations, and contain nothing that wouldn't fit directly in the wiki article. a link to worldofbiography has been placed on over 70 talk pages by User:Jameswatt. thanks. --He:ah? 20:57, 15 April 2006 (UTC)


This should not be a good article because it completly skips over the Romantic Plays. These plays are put under the comedy section. Tell me how Pericles, The Tempest, and the few others are listed as comedy. They should be under the Romances or "tragicomedy".

They're listed there because it follows their classification in the First Folio. However you're right that romances need to be mentioned there. The Singing Badger 20:49, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
The categorization is correct and romances shouldn't be added if we follow the traditional classification. Comedy and Tragedy in the Shakespearean context does not mean the same as their modern usage. A Shakespearean comedy is a play which has a happy ending for the main character(s) - the play need not be funny throughout. A tragedy is one which shows the downfall and unhappy ending of a main character or a social situation with a moral flaw. Richard III, one of the history play (histories = Shakespeare's plays about real Kings of England), is typically considered as a tragedy but has a lot of humour in it. Romances could fall into either comedy or tragedy... Romeo and Juliet would be a tragedy; A Midsummer's Night Dream would be a comedy Bwithh 23:27, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
ps if the original writer of the comment here had actually clicked on the wikilinks located directly above to the list of the categorized plays and read the linked articles about comedies, tragedies etc., he/she would have found that he/she didnt need to post this comment about this being a bad article which skips the "Romantic Plays" Bwithh 23:31, 16 April 2006 (UTC).
They are funnier than Dante's Divine Comedy, which is a comedy in the same sense. Still, there should be some discussion of the categorisation, and of modern categories such as Romance and Tragicomedy. Paul B 23:44, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
I don't support the idea of "modern categorization" in this way, but if it did happen, the traditional way should remain the priority as this is the established and widely accepted scheme both historically and in current scholarship. Also, Dante's Divine Comedy was written 300 years earlier than Shakespeare's plays, in another language and cultural context - the sense of humour for that text's time can likely even less familiar to us than Shakespeare's humour (see Bear baiting). So the question of which is funnier is more POV-problematic than usual. Bwithh 23:48, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
The sense of humour is irrelevant. That was a joke. The Divine Comedy is a comedy because it all ends as it should, and even the people in hell get justly treated. It's not because they all laughed at it 600 years ago, but now it's just slightly less hilarious than Our American Cousin. Paul B 00:31, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
By the way, tragicomedy is not a modern category, it was well known in Shakespeare's time. But the compilers of the First Folio chose not to use it. The Singing Badger 01:10, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
I would have no problem using "Romance" and a category. We don't actually use the First Folio Categories. The Folio lists "Cymbeline" as a tragedy (it obviously isn't) and doesn't classify "Troilus and Cressida" anywhere. Cymbeline, The Tempest, Pericles, Kinsmen, Winter's Tale and (IMO) Henry VIII are significantly different than the comedies, and are Romances. It also might be okay to list Troilus, All's Well and Measure for Measure separately, as Problem Plays. Carlo 01:29, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
The problem is that some categorizations are debatable: as you said Henry VIII could be argued as a romance and some people regard 'Twelfth Night and even Comedy of Errors as romances too. Some people regard Hamlet as a Problem Play, some don't. The more one tries to acommodate different ideas, the more complicated the list gets. That's why it's simpler to stick with the Folio attributions, even though they're not perfect, and discuss the complications on the individual pages of each play. The Singing Badger 13:30, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
I strongly agree with Singing Badger on this. It is not a valid criticism of this page to say that it organises the plays according to method x when the person criticising prefers method y. A division according to the Folio designations is most widely known and accepted. AndyJones 15:41, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

British national poet

I would dispute that Shakespeare is considered the "British" national poet, he is certainly considered England's national poet, for good reason, but there can be no doubt that Robert Burns is considered the national poet of Scotland and Shakespeare would not be recognised by many Scots as their national poet. I would like to amend the article accordingly. Any confusion is understandable as the UK (which I assume "British" is meant to refer to) is made up of four nations which although not sovereign each have their own national culture and institutions. I would say that most people's perception would be that Shakespeare is the national poet of England and Burns of Scotland, with neither superseding each other as the national (or super-national) poet of Britain, i don't know if either of them would be happy with the title as Burns had a tendency towards Scottish nationalism and anti-union sentiment, and Shakespeare would never have heard of the United Kingdom. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Benson85 (talkcontribs)

It's possible for there to be more than one national poet e.g. Poland. Shakespeare would not have heard of the UK, but he certainly accepted the notion of the unity of the island of Great Britain (it's not "this sceptred isle, minus Scotland and Wales"). Furthermore, in 1603, King James VI of Scotland was crowned King James I of England in what was known as the Union of the Crowns (a precursor to the 1707 Act of Union between Scotland and England). Of course 1606 is during Shakespeare's lifetime, and perhaps the most famous Shakespeare play, Macbeth was specifically intended to flatter James VI/I, and it was specially presented to the king by Shakespeare in 1606[8] (James was a direct descendent of one of the play's characters). King James would become patron of Shakespeare's theater company, which would become known as the King's Men. Also, the article text already says "English or British" Bwithh 22:32, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Benson85 on this, and I'd be quite happy for the article to say "English" in this context. AndyJones 15:30, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
Firstly apologies for not signing my previous comment, secondly, I appreciate your points and I am aware that Shakespeare was as prolific in Jacobean times as he was in the Elizabethan era. However I still do not believe that dedicating a play to a foreign born king, or once writing (however poetically) about "this sceptred isle" qualifies him as a/the national British poet, nor do I think we can guess at his real political views, he was good at keeping the man/woman in charge happy (as well as many others, of course). I agree with your point that there can be more than one national poet, in my opinion England has numerous who are more than worthy of the title (William Blake being my preferred choice). And in Scotland there are pretenders to Burns' throne, William Dunbar, James Hogg...

The article text saying "English or British" also hints at the common mistake that the two are synonymous. To counter this I would propose a compromise with something along the lines of "English (perhaps even British) national poet". If you feel that is a fair comment then I believe we should amend it accordingly. Although I would still much prefer it just to say English, and I do not believe that diminishes Shakespeare’s work.

On another note I would also question the relevance of the Acts of Union 1707 to Shakespeare, the circumstances that led to that treaty were far more complex than a mere continuation of the Union of the Crowns as the article on the Union itself discusses.Benson85 23:15, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

I suggest "the English, or perhaps arguably the British, national poet" as a compromise. btw, the academic reference supporting the national poet claim is an awardwinning book which describes Shakespeare as "Britain's National Poet". Bwithh 23:23, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

James I/VI proclaimed himself King of Great Britain, which I do not dispute, although the reference there does also confirm that "technically, there was no United Kingdom of Great Britain until the Act of Union in 1707" and that Great Britain was used as a "short-hand" to refer to the kingdoms of England and Scotland. What I still dispute is Shakespeare being called "Britain's" national poet, I still consider it as part of the fallacy of using the terms "English" and "British" interchangeably, Ben Jonson being an example here. The links to Edinburgh Geography Dept and Glasgow also say "contiguous nations of England, Scotland and Wales" (different nations, different national poets) and that "legislative union between Scotland and England did not take place until 1707" and refer to James as "James VI and I" (two sets of Roman numerals for the two diferent nations of Scotland and England, although he was also James I of Ireland, another nation and claimed to be James I of another European nation, France, too) But the "arguably" quote is a fine compromise to me and I consider the matter resolved. On another technical note, the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh are ancient, not modern. Benson85 20:27, 27 April 2006 (UTC) thanks, I knew how old the universities are, but used the "modern" descriptor to indicate I was using them as current references Bwithh 22:18, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Fair point, but I meant that the Ancient universities of Scotland is a term used referring to the structure, governance and administration as well as the degrees that they award, each of the Ancient Universities is governed by a tripartite system of General Council, University Court, and Academic Senate, as defined by the Universities (Scotland) Acts. Each also has a Students' Representative Council as required by statute. The University of Dundee, which was only chartered in 1967 (with it's earliest history dating back to just 1881 as a University college) is one of Ancient universities of Scotland, governed under the Universities (Scotland) Acts. In Scotland the terms ancient and modern when referring to Universities mean a different thing so that the University of Strathclyde, chartered in 1964, is modern where as the University of Dundee, charterd three years later, is ancient. Confusing, but worth a mention. Benson85 21:07, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

> I am not British or English. What I don't understand from the article or this talk page is that why he is called an "...English poet and playwright" (in the very first line in fact), and not a "British" poet or playwright ?-- 19:49, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
He was born in 1564, before the Act of Union, so England and Scotland were two separate countries. At that time the country he was born in was called "England" (it would now be "the United Kingdom"). This causes no confusion to modern readers since England is still a nation and the two places associated with Shakespeare (Stratford-Upon-Avon and London) are both in England. AndyJones 20:18, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

School kids' attitudes

"there is a common association of his work with boredom and incomprehension and of "high art" not easily appreciated by popular culture, an ironic fate considering Shakespeare's target audiences." - I have no idea if this is true or not, but the statement is not supported by any data or ref. that I can see.Kdammers 10:14, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

I personally think this is the kind of common sense thing where the burden of the proof is on the doubter, but it's true that some kind of data would be helpful. All I can think of right now is the Blackadder sketch (click here), part of a film written for the populist Millennium Dome experience. Hardly 'data', I admit, but clearly symptomatic of a certain attitude. The Singing Badger 14:26, 30 April 2006 (UTC)
I agree that thee are some common-sense things that can generally be put into Wik with-out needing data first, but I don't see that this is one of them. I certainly don't remember that attitude when I went to school in the States, nor (except for kids who were against school in general) did I note boredom with S. among students in Germany (admittedly I was in school there but did tutor some and know a lot of kids). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Kdammers (talkcontribs) 12:32, 1 May 2006.
Lucky you, at my school everyone hated Shakespeare except me! My point is that if the majority of English-speaking people really do find Shakespeare thrilling and easily accessible, there would be flourishing Shakespeare theatres in every major town, full of happy teenagers attending voluntarily every weekend. But there aren't. There used to be, in the nineteenth century, but not now. That's my common sense argument. The Singing Badger 01:38, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
Shakespeare is still produced more than any other playwright, and so forth. There are frequent film adaptations of his work. The lack of flourishing Shakespeare theaters in every town, I'd suspect, has a lot to do with the decline of live theater in general in the face of movies and television. Nobody is saying that "the majority of English-speaking people find Shakespeare thrilling and easily accessible." Such a statement would need to be sourced just as much as the claim that most people find him boring and inaccessible. Shakespeare is generally viewed as difficult, but I don't think there's a general sense of it as boring or irrelevant, except to the extent that a lot of schoolchildren find pretty much anything they have to do in school to be boring and irrelevant, which isn't a notable fact to put into the article about every author read by schoolchildren. john k 02:41, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
There were usually kids in class who enjoyed particular works or were especially keen about literature in general, but I can't think of one book or poet from whatever era in our high school literature classes who didn't provoke a significant degree of boredom and listlessness from the kids in general. I agree with john k, I think the idea that Shakespeare is *especially* boring or "irrelevant"-seeming to schoolkids does not have any supporting evidence. I think we should take the statement out Bwithh 02:48, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
While, yes there has been a decline in live theatre, when was the last time a Shakespeare adapted film opened and had crowds like the premier of a Harry Potter film? The latest version of The M<erchat of Venice didn't even open here in Columbus, Georgia and it's a fairly large city as well as being the headquarters for the Carmike Cinemas chain. Love's Labours LOst did open here but in the art house screening room and only played for a week. *Exeunt* Ganymead | Dialogue? 02:55, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
But why single out Shakespeare for this kind of comment, when schoolkids are reacting the same way to Charles Dickens,say,or whoever else is on the canon-based part of their curriculum. And haven't Shakespeare's (and Dickens') popularity been remarkably resilient in the 21st century compared to their peers? Bwithh 03:13, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
My 2p worth: I agree with Singing Badger. The statement is so self-evidently true based on my life experience that Wikipedia should continue to say it, until such time as a decent source is found. Removing it smacks of whitewashing Shakespeare's reputation, which we have been accused of before, on this page. AndyJones 10:30, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
I personally disagree with the statement. Not only is it unsupported, but it's somewhat insulting, both to Shakespeare and to people of the modern age. I've always found Shakespeare "thrilling and accessible," and I'd have to say the majority of my friends in school felt the same way. And this was a public high school in Alabama, not exactly considered to be a bastion of high education. To answer a few statements above: No, there aren't flourishing Shakespeare theatres in every major town, but there are flourishing Shakespeare theatres in most major cities. If Shakespeare is boring and inaccessible to common people, why does Hollywood continue to produce major film adaptions of his works, many of them big-budget and starring major names? Movies are the medium of the masses, and film execs wouldn't even go there if there wasn't money and interest in it. The fact that the schools still teach him is also telling. Shakespeare is held by most to be a high water mark of culture, yes, but it's a water mark that most people strive for. I've never heard anyone accuse Shakespeare of being irrelevant to this age. Many schoolchildren find school in general boring, but ask them again about Shakespeare in a decade's time, and I think you'll hear a different answer. I think to make any generality about "common association" requires some supporting citation, and I personally think the statement should be removed. —LonelyPilgrim 10:58, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

I'm not going to argue much more on this because I fully acknowledge that data probably isn't available. But I still think just one sentence needs to be there, and in answer to points raised above I'd just like to point out:

  • There was a 'blip' in Shakespeare filmmaking in the 90s thanks to Kenneth Branagh and Baz Luhrmann, but it's definitely over: Branagh's 'LLL' tanked, and studying the box office for the Al Pacino Merchant shows that it too was a financial disaster [9]. In no way could the cinema screens of today be considered to be awash with Shakespeare: there is one every few years, and only a few people go to see them. So we can hardly say that the live theatre audience for Shakespeare has simply shifted into the cinema. There has been a decline in interest.
  • If you really have never heard Shakespeare being called irrelevant or dull, googling the phrases "Shakespeare is boring", "I hate Shakespeare" and "Shakespeare is irrelevant" will produce a depressingly large number of results.
  • The fact that Shakespeare theatres exist only in (very) major cities suggests that watching Shakespeare is now a select activity considered 'high culture', not popular.
  • I would never deny that the 'idea' of Shakespeare's greatness is thoroughly ingrained in our culture, hence the teaching of him in schools, and the politicians who froth at the mouth if anyone considers removing him from syllabi, but the evidence above shows that the number of people who come out of school as lovers of WS is very small, much smaller than it was in the past.
  • Why mention this in the article? Simply because we have an entire section on Shakespeare's reputation showing how the image of Shakespeare has changed over time, and ignoring the negative side of it makes the article look complacent and blinkered.
  • Let me just stress that I love Shakespeare!! But I believe I'm in a minority and that saying otherwise is fantasy.

The Singing Badger 17:33, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Let me back up Mr. Badger by noting that Shakey was the most produced playwright in 19th Century America. This was an era, mind you, when every town of any size had a live theatre. Audiences clamored to see Shakey and he was well-known to all of them. One author I read recently, mused that an average clerk in the 19th century probably had a knowledge of Shakey on par with a modern college professor who specializes in him. The clerk would have acquired this intimate knowledge through reading, but also having seen the plays performed regularly. In addition, numerous actors performing Shakey for settlers on the frontier report their illiterate patrons speaking the lines with them. (this is info I shall be including in Shakespeare's reputation in the very near future). Comparitively, today you would not find Shakey being regularly produced in live theatre in all but the largest towns. Additionally, find me the average citizen who can quote large passages of Shakey. I'm a thespian and I couldn't quote large passages, though I do love his work. Certainly his position in American culture has fallen somewhat. He's recognized among the literati and well known to them, but he's really known to the commoners by what has been taught (often poorly) in school if they even retain it. Alas! *Exeunt* Ganymead | Dialogue? 17:56, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
Once again, live theater in general has undergone a drastic decline from the 19th century. Shakespeare is still the most produced playwright, it just happens that there's a lot fewer plays produced now than in the 19th century. People's inability to quote Shakespeare is similar - people today, I would suggest, have less ability to quote, in general, than people in the 19th century. In the 19th century people loved extravagant oratory. They enjoyed listening to someone like Edward Everett give three hour long addresses in classical style. The culture has changed a lot since the 19th century, and it's deeply misleading to use comparisons between today and the 19th century to prove anything about underlying attitudes towards one specific author. The basic fact remains that a substantial percentage of schoolchildren find just about anything they read in school to be boring and irrelevant. I remember in 9th grade (way back in 94) an irritating discussion in which people were talking about how much more relevant the poetry of Jim Morrison was than The Odyssey. I don't see why this is terribly notable for Shakespeare. How popular would one expect a 16th/17th century playwright to be at the beginning of the 21st century? Surely he's more popular than any of his contemporaries, who are now rarely read at all. High school students don't find Marlowe or Jonson to be boring and irrelevant because no high school students read Marlowe and Jonson. I agree with Bwithh that what's remarkable is Shakespeare's resilience and continued popularity, not the fact that a lot of schoolchildren don't like him. Also, what are we to make of the continuing production of teen movies that are based on the plots of Shakespeare plays? (O, She's the Man, 10 Things I Hate About You, A Midsummer Night's Rave, and so forth)? These kind of movies are aimed at teenagers, and are very explicitly based on Shakespearean plays. Presumably, there is at least some hope that the gimmick of a modernized version of Shakespeare will bring teenage audiences in. For this claim to go in, some actual evidence, and not "common sense," will need to be cited. john k 15:34, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Popular appeal and strong characterization

Just a small point but to say that his "combine popular appeal with strong charactorization ect" is just bad writing. Surely popular appeal is the result of these combinations not part of them. It's like saying Micheal Jacksons songs combine huge sales with strong hooks and strong productions ect. It may seem petty but if Wikipedia's going to scale the heights we all want it to inelegant clumsy writing isn't going to help. Also the bit about him bartering camels to pay for rolling paper is just plain arse. Eddyboy

Um, hello Eddyboy. Just wondering if you were familiar with mainstream popular culture and its appeal in 21st century Britain at all. Bwithh 21:17, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
Eddyboy has a point, this is rather waffly language. Of course, it's not easy to write potted summaries of why Shakespeare was a genius. It would be better if we could find some quotations from well-known scholars rather than try to write our own. The Singing Badger 21:11, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

I'm assuming you're responsible for that line in the article Bwithh. You were wondering if I was familiar with mainstream popular culture and its appeal in 21st century Britain. In answer, yes I was, but I had the information cruely snatched away from me. Now that we have moved out of the 21st century (!?) I regard the lost information as useless anyway. But anyway, about the Shakespear article....-- 15:26, 19 May 2006 (UTC)Eddyboy

Mr W.H.

The article Mr. W.H. could do with some input from regular contributors here, as an edit-war is currently brewing. Paul B 11:16, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

  • Yes, your ANON seems to have lost the plot. It's on my watchlist, for what that's worth. AndyJones 13:41, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Request link change

I am disambiguating the Power page, that is, I am changing links to Power to the most appropriate article. This article contains this passage:

The earlier plays range from broad comedy to historical nostalgia, while the middle-period plays tend to be grander in terms of theme, addressing such issues as betrayal, murder, lust, power, and ambition. By contrast, his late romances feature redemptive plotlines with ambiguous endings and the use of magic and other fantastical elements.

I believe that the word 'power' in the above passage should refer to the article on Power (sociology). As a new editor I lack the authority to change it myself. I request that someone with authority change the link to read as follows:

[[Power (sociology)| power]]

Gerry Ashton 20:45, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks Gerry, it's fixed now; sorry you weren't able to fix it yourself, the page is protected owing to excessive vandalism. The Singing Badger 20:53, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Recent bigraphical additions

There have recently been some excellent biographical additions to this article. However, shouldn't they be over at Shakespeare's Life? AndyJones 12:46, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

shakespeare used opium

Opium, cocaine, and cannabis (weed); Shakespeare is a classic stoner man. He even referenced opium poppy, and weed in his works several times.

try sonnet 76

Why is my verse so barren of new pride, So far from variation or quick change?

(he is complaining that he can't think of anything new, no variety.)

Why with the time do I not glance aside To new-found methods and to compounds strange?

(new found methods and compounds strange?)

Why write I still all one, ever the same, And keep invention in a noted weed

(inspiration in a weed! theres that wacky tobaccy!) personally, Shakespeare had to have some balls, Weed had been declared Satanic by the church (Inquisition), and I'm sure he would have been burned alongside his works if the church found out.

But enough of that, you don't have to believe it if you don't want to. Your perceptions won't change reality, but merely color them to your liking.

And...? This page is for discussing what goes/doesn't go in the article, not for talking about Shakespeare and his habits. Bishonen | talk 19:33, 5 June 2006 (UTC).
Perhaps its the opium, or perhaps it's Shakespeare's ghost, but I can't keep the poetry inside anymore:
The Anonymous Editor
There once was an anonymous editor
Who opined when he should have refrained.
"I don't have a point, or clue in my head"
this editor so gladly exclaimed.
But he still posted here, and this much is clear,
at Wikipedia, inane words don't endear.
(please take this poem a lighthearted manner :-)--Alabamaboy 20:27, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
Don't worry, a person from Porlock will be along in a minute! Bishonen | talk 20:42, 5 June 2006 (UTC).
Ha! Best, --Alabamaboy 22:23, 5 June 2006 (UTC)


I know the page tells the name and birth dates of Shakespeare's kids, but I was wondering if anyone had any additional info, especially for Susanna. Odairu64 20:22, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Susanna married John Hall in 1607, and had one daughter, Elizabeth (1608-1670), who married Thomas Nash in 1626 and John Bernard in 1649. Elizabeth had no children by either marriage.
Judith Shakespeare married Thomas Quiney in 1616 and had three sons, who also all died without having any descendants.
Just to be perfectly clear: Shakespeare had no great-grandchildren, and has no living descendants. However, his sister, Joan (Shakespeare) Hart, does have living descendants. - Nunh-huh 20:29, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. Anything else? - Odairu64 16:38, 6 June 2006 (UTC)


The text reads "William Shakespeare (also spelled Shakspere, Shaksper, and Shake-speare, due to the fact that spelling in Elizabethan times was not fixed and absolute[7]) was born in Henley Street, in Stratford-upon-Avon." How do you know? Another article just calls this an assumption. Sciurinæ 07:27, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

It is an assumption. There is no surviving video of the event. Paul B 07:42, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
Nor is there any other record. - Nunh-huh 16:47, 10 June 2006 (UTC)


This just seems to muddy the waters. I don't believe that Shakespeare used a pseudonym. And if something must be put there, then "The Swan of Avon" (© Ben Jonson) is a better choice. As for the date of birth, it's unlikely to have been the 26th, isn't it? What about "? April 1564"? Who says that Hamlet is his Magnum Opus? I'd choose King Lear or The Tempest. Shouldn't Occupation include Actor? --GuillaumeTell 08:33, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Shakespeare didn't use a pseudonym, "The Bard of Avon" was added as a kind of nickname. April 26(err 23) is given as the date of death in the article lead and "Later Years" subsection. Hamlet is probably Shakespeare's best known work, deciding which play is his artistic apogee would force a subjective evaluation. I added the infobox in an attempt to format the article, if any entry is suspect, please change it. ˉˉanetode╡ 09:14, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
April 26 is the day he was baptised (he died on the 23rd). The conventional birthdate is also the 23rd, on the grounds that bapitism was usually around three days after birth. We can't be sure of the day, but the 23rd is preferred bacause it also happens to be St. George's Day, England's national day. It also provides a neat symmetry with the date of his death. Shakespeare did not have any pseudonyms. "The Bard" is just a rather bombastic phrase that is often used. My English teacher used to call him "Bill the Quill" (Wordsworth was "Will the Hill"). But I don't think we'll be putting that in. Paul B 10:10, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
We have discussed the baptism/birth date issue numerous times here. I think the article works as is with regards to these issues--i.e., the baptism date is given in the lead and then the speculations about his actual birth date are explained in the relevant section. I support leaving this as is.--Alabamaboy 17:27, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
Alabamaboy, can you please clarify? Do you mean as it is now or as it was before we had an infobox? AndyJones 19:07, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Ah. Confusion suddenly gives way to clarity. My bad, I thought people meant the wording in the lead. Anyway, the infobox should match the wording in the lead. As a result, use the term baptism instead of birth. Best, --Alabamaboy 19:10, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

I'd prefer something like "Born: around 23 April 1564". People like to know when someone was born, and using a baptism date could be confusing.
(Thinking about "Bard of Avon" has had me humming "the poet people call/The Bard of Stratford-on-Avon" from "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" all day.) --GuillaumeTell 21:52, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
What about following the manual of style reccomendation and stating "born: c.April 23, 1564"? ˉˉanetode╡ 06:05, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
We have a baptismal date for him. We have no birth date for him. The exact baptismal date is better than the wild-ass-guess birthdate. If the template won't allow it, forget the template. The purpose of an encyclopedia is to disseminate accurate information, not to disseminate erroneous information dressed up pretty. - Nunh-huh 03:36, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
Sorry to say I agree with Nunh-huh. I think the page was better pre-infobox. AndyJones 09:37, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
That template will allow pretty much whatever you want to fit into it. I think there is some benefit to its inclusion, even if it appears only to disseminate erroneous information in a pretty manner. Disputed infobox entries are easily corrected or discarded, and such standardization of author articles allows for easy cross-reference. ˉˉanetode╡ 10:13, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
Pretty and undependable information for "easy cross-reference" is for baseball trading cards, not encyclopedias. Reducing all authors to one magnum opus is the stuff of Cliff's Notes, not an encyclopedia, and certainly not Wikipedia, when the choice is completely arbitrary. - Nunh-huh 10:32, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
There are people who use Wikipedia in much the same way they use Cliff's Notes, the grand pretension of building Ye Olde Encyclopædia only harms its egalitarian accessibility. The real question is whether the infobox acts as a detriment to the goal of presenting information. There is, of course, an implicit bias in including a "Magnum Opus" entry, but it is easily remedied by including a small selection of major works or by deleting the entry altogether. Seriously, though, what's with this animosity toward dependable pretty information? ˉˉanetode╡ 10:57, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
So far, "pretty" has been inversely proportional to "dependable". It usually is, and here is no exception. - Nunh-huh 16:49, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
While previous romantic entanglements lead me to admit that there is some truth to this maxim, I still think that the current infobox info is dependable and accurate. ˉˉanetode╡ 18:59, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
But no longer pretty. Can you make it say "Baptised" instead of "Born: Baptised"? - Nunh-huh 19:17, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
I can, but it wouldn't relaly make sense to rename a template entry because of one exception. Perhaps this is the sacrifice necessary to maintain that inverse proportion you were talking about. ˉˉanetode╡ 05:47, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
Shakespeare is most certainly not the only person with an article in Wikipedia for whom we have no birth date, but do have a date of baptism! What makes no sense is to place erroneous information into a template because there is a "blank" that "has" to be filled in! I think you should reconsider renaming/providing an alternative template/entry for such situations. Probably in most instances it won't be as difficult to keep false information out, as it's mostly to make Shakespeare die on an anniversary of his death that people are so insistent on peddling false info. -Nunh-huh 07:18, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
"Date of birth" is a pretty important blank :), but I'm not attempting to advocate for false info or introduce any unnecessary complications to the infobox. I changed the "birth" field to say "c.April 1564", as suggested by the manual of style. Please feel free to correct this to your liking, as I'm kind of tired of counting up the requisite number of colons to post a reply. ˉˉanetode╡ 07:35, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
I don't mind Hamlet going back in, if it's designated as "Most famous work" or something like that. Choosing a Magnum Opus for most authors is likely to be hazardous (exceptions I can think of offhand: Cervantes, Sterne, Milton, Tasso, Chaucer), but Most Famous is a bit less contentious. --GuillaumeTell 12:49, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
As there would be no consensus as to which work to include, I don't think so. Even "most famous" - it might be R&J instead of Hamlet.
In the Victorian era, Hamlet was regarded as the Magnum Opus going away, and I believe that the play has easily the largest body of literature devoted to it. But if you asked people which was the best NOW, I would not be surprised if someother play surpassed it. Carlo 13:39, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
Exactly. - Nunh-huh 16:49, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
While probably Hamlet remains the most famous Shakespearean play, and perhaps the general consensus pick as the "best", if people had to pick a single "best" work, I think the idea that we can reduce an author like Shakespeare to any single "magnum opus" is absurd. I'm also not a big fan of the idea that English renaissance theatre qualifies as a "literary movement." A literary movement is something like Imagism, or, perhaps more broadly, something like Romanticism. I would suggest that referring to any writers before the arrival of the romantic movement as part of a "literary movement" is seriously problematic. Shakespeare is a writer of the English renaissance theatre, surely. But I think a defining characteristic of a "literary movement" is that it has to have a conception of itself as a movement, with conscious characteristics. This works for romanticism - the primary romantic writers like Wordsworth and Coleridge wrote tons of criticism and such about what romanticism was. This really isn't true of Shakespeare, or of most early writers. john k 14:43, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Doctor Who

It was confirmed this week that the Doctor will encounter Shakespeare at some point during the third series of Doctor Who. Is it worth adding this information to the article, or should it go in the Shakespere On Screen one? Source The_B 01:41, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

It should go in the Doctor Who one. It tells us nothing about Shakespeare, so it certainly doesn't belong in this article. - Nunh-huh 02:59, 11 June 2006 (UTC)
I totally agree with Nunh-huh. It could also be added to the Shakespeare on screen article.--Alabamaboy 12:15, 11 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree with adding it to Doctor Who. I definitely don't think it belongs here. At the moment, I'm against adding it to Shakespeare on Screen, too. That page is big enough with performances and adaptations, without starting to add minor references. I guess it depends on how prominent Shakespeare proves to be in the story, when it's released. (That page does mention the "dome" Blackadder.) AndyJones 14:29, 11 June 2006 (UTC)
Is there a case for restricting the coverage of Shakespeare on screen to screen adaptations of the plays only, and creating William Shakespeare in popular culture for things like this, the Blackadder skit or Shakespeare in Love? HAM SaintPierre4.JPG 11:54, 12 June 2006 (UTC) page

I suggest adding Shakespeare's page (yes, he does have one, at to the list of external links because it's a useful list of film and television adaptations of his works, one of which goes back to 1899. I'd add it myself, but the Protected status prevents. BryanEkers 04:34, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

It's already down there at the bottom of the Shakespeare on screen page. --GuillaumeTell 15:09, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

Missing the obvious

If my son asked me about Shakespeare, I think I would explain him myself rather than direct my son to this article. The article states that Shakespeare wrote plays 400 years ago, but if my son wanted to know more, many of the most obvious facts aren't there. First, I would show him an example of a page Shakespeare wrote. Next, I would point out that the words are hard to read because he used words like the King James Bible (see Early Modern English) - not because Shakespeare was showing off but because everybody used to talk that way. Next, I would show him Shakespeare's iambic pentameter - dih DAH dih DAH dih DAH dih DAH dih DAH, the QUA-li-TY of MER-cy IS not STRAIN'D. He didn't do that to show off either - he did it because they didn't have video recorders, so the whole play had to be memorized, and the rhythm made it easier. If someone forgot a line, the play had to wait for a prompter to whisper it to the actor.

None of the above is in the article. It isn't even in the Shakespeare's plays link! The edit page forbids adding new material because the page is long enough, but that objective could be met by moving some existing material down to more specific articles. In particular, the long paragraph that speculates that Shakespeare was gay and concludes he probably wasn't, could be reduced to a few words and a link to the complete story. I would think a Shakespeare article would be mostly about his work because the rest of his story wouldn't matter otherwise. And what we do write about his sex life should be more about Anne Hathaway than anyone else, simply because there is much wider agreement that that relationship really happened. I'm not volunteering because edits like this are my more normal contribution, but I didn't see a comment quite like this in the discussion above. Art LaPella 22:39, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

You might want to point out to your son that, believe it or not, plays are actually still performed today, and it is not necessary to have a video recorder to enjoy them. And that any play he attends would by necessity have been memorized by the actors, and it would be memorized whether or not it was in prose, poetry, or any specific meter. - Nunh-huh 20:48, 22 June 2006 (UTC)
Sure, although I'm not sure if he already knows that. My point was that at least iambic pentameter should be mentioned in a Shakespeare article. Art LaPella 21:37, 22 June 2006 (UTC)
Well, in that I would concur. And such a metric treatment should exceed by far - indeed, eclipse in scope, precede in place - the space we give to foolish notions of Baconian sort. - Nunh-huh 23:31, 22 June 2006 (UTC)
And worth a mention too is that the iambs, as used by Shakespeare, poet-like may vary - far more ingeniously than those we hear from tedious would-be Shakespeares like young Kit. --GuillaumeTell 00:05, 23 June 2006 (UTC)
I also think the religion section is disproportionately big - that is, a sentence to say some think he was Catholic but most say he was Anglican, with a link to the rest of the story. Art LaPella 00:10, 23 June 2006 (UTC)
mmmm....Anne Hathaway....just to note, you are free to add things. Any note saying "don't edit because the page is too long" is merely advisory. john k 19:19, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

More on Reputation

Copying the following from my talk pageAndyJones 20:32, 22 June 2006 (UTC): I noticed you reverted my edit to the opening sentence of the William Shakespeare article, citing this sentence as being "Weasel words"

"...was an English poet and playwright, generally considered to be the greatest writer of the English language."

I was thinking that being that he is probably the most famous (and brilliant) artist of all time, this should be mentioned in the first paragraph, rather than calling him merely a poet and playwright. Take a look at the opening sentence of Einstein. Paradoxically, two sentences later, the sentence "...has a reputation as the greatest writer of the English Language..." remains. (I see those two sentences as quite similar)

What do you think about putting it back? AdamBiswanger1 20:18, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

  • This subject has been discussed here quite a lot. See for example the sections "Bias?" and "Weasel Words" above. AndyJones 20:32, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Regarding the opening sentence

We are not in the business of portraying Stephen King, Dr. Suess and William Shakespeare as equals. Saying that Shakespeare is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers who ever lived is not a case of "weasel words", nor does it require citation. It is common knowledge, as in the opening sentences of the articles on Einstein, Rembrandt, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. No question about this one. The elimination of so-called weasel words does nothing but understate the man's significance. And if some people still insist on a bland, objective statement such as "...was an English playwright" because of WP:NPOV, then this is most certainly a time for WP:IAR if there ever was one. "If the rules prevent you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia's quality, ignore them." AdamBiswanger1 20:43, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree. In fact, I don't fully agree with Wikipedia's policy on weasel words. When evidence is overwhelming like in the case of Shakespeare, I think it is perectly fine to say he is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. Not saying that would definitely understate his significance. - Cribananda 01:54, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
Why are you guys having trouble sourcing this? If the evidence is so overwhelming, surely it would be possible to find a source? Ten sources? A hundred sources? Verifiability isn't negotiable: it's at the absolute heart of what Wikipedia aspires to be. Any comment you can only justify by citing WP:IAR or complaining that wikipedia's policies are wrong has no place here. Find a source. AndyJones 10:23, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
Andy, you got me wrong, may be I wasn't clear - I don't support non-verifiable claims. Of course claims should be sourced. I am only saying use of words that are given as examples in the weasel words page should not necessarily preclude a sentence. Sometimes is widely regarded as could be the best way of saying it. - Cribananda 13:16, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
Am I missing something. When we had this same discussion months ago, a number of sources were added to the lead to support the claim that "Shakespeare now has a reputation as the greatest writer in the English language, as well as one of the greatest in Western literature, and the world's pre-eminent dramatist." To support that claim we referenced the Encyclopedia Britannica article on Shakespeare, MSN Encarta Encyclopedia article on Shakespeare, and the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia article on Shakespeare.--Alabamaboy 11:50, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Sigh. Policies like weasel words, verification, and original research should only come into play in instances where a person actually thinks that something in the article is wrong. If you don't think that Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, and the statement is unsourced, then sure, go ahead and challenge it. But if you think it's true, you're only making trouble, and probably making wikipedia blander and worse, to go and "NPOV" or "de-original research" it on the basis that this statement is "unverified." The point of these policies is to make sure there isn't any wrong information in wikipedia. Obviously, it's good if we had everything actually cited. But we should only actively remove stuf if we think it's wrong. Otherwise any kind of progress becomes impossible, because we have to waste time finding sources for things that are common knowledge, instead of actually dealing with improving all the genuinely crappy articles on wikipedia. If something is true but unsourced, and that troubles you, what you should do is try to source it yourself, not remove it until somebody else does. john k 19:14, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Any source that claims that Shakespeare is the greatest writer of the English Language is as much based on speculation as anything we would write. That's what makes this so difficult--It's simply not a verifiable fact, but it's true. AdamBiswanger1 00:27, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

It is not verifiable, of course, that Shakespeare is the greatest writer of the English language. It is most certainly verifiable that he is generally considered to be such. And people saying that he is such are certainly not basing it on "speculation." They are stating their opinion, which is something completely different. And one can certainly make objective statements about what people's opinions are. john k 19:10, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
Other than quibbling with ("speculation" vs. "opinion"), I think we agree. But just to beat a dead horse for a moment, I was not referring to authors or other sources claiming that Shakespeare is their personal choice as the greatest writer, but more authoritative biographical or encyclopedic sources "speculating" that he is generally regarded as the greatest writer of the English language. That would not be considered opinion, but speculation. AdamBiswanger1 23:01, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
That is why the opening sentence says "regarded" as the greatest writer (and so on). The article has always used words such as "regarded," "has a reputation as..." and does not say that Shakespeare "is" the greatest writer.--Alabamaboy 20:10, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Most quoted writer

Another sentence in the first para says that "Shakespeare is the most quoted writer in the literature and history of the English-speaking world, according to the Oxford English Dictionary." This is backed up by Note 3: Oxford English Dictionary brochure which refers to Shakespeare on page 2.

OK so far, but the OED isn't a dictionary of quotations, nor does it have a league-table of most-quoted writers. What it does do is use quotations from every sort of publication to illustrate the contexts in which the words which it defines have been used. Shakespeare is the author most quoted in the OED, which isn't the same as "most quoted". Furthermore, the OED's quotations usually aren't what you and I would term quotations - they are just sentences or part-sentences from his works.

It may well be that "Shakespeare is the most quoted writer ... [etc]", but this reference doesn't verify that statement. (In parentheses, I wonder how one would determine who the most quoted writer...[etc] is? Dictionaries of quotations may contain more quotes by Shakespeare than by others, but who knows how often these quotes are used? You'd have to go through all post-Shakespeare writings counting up how many times each author is quoted. Has anyone done this? And suppose I said "To thine own self be true" - who's counting that?)

Altogether, I'd be happier if this statement disappeared. --GuillaumeTell 17:55, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Shakespeare is OBVIOUSLY the most quoted writer. The index of my book of quotations doesn't even have a page number under his entry: it just says "Shakespeare - passim". The only other one that has "passim" (throughout) as a reference for their quotes is the Bible - and that's not "an author."
Seriously - who else? Cervantes? Dante? Name someone else who you think may be quoted more than Shakespeare. Heck, name me someone who you think is quoted only half as much as Shakespeare. Really, it's not close. He's not just the "most quoted" - he's BY FAR the most quoted. There are times when Hamlet starts to read like a list of well-known quotations strung together.
Oh - and if the OED "use[s] quotations from every sort of publication" and winds up with way more Shakespeare than anyone else, doesn't that sort of prove the point? Carlo 19:23, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
This is another objection I do not understand. Since GuillaumeTell questions the reference, I took it out and added in two new and trustworthy references to this "most quoted" status. As with many statements like this about Shakespeare, there are a ton of quality references for this stuff. As has been repeated before on this page to the point of silliness, it would be understandable to object to these types of "greatest" or "most quoted" claims for any other writer. But with Shakespeare, that is the overwhelming critical assessment.--Alabamaboy 21:31, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
I suspect that we mean different things by "most quoted". I'd certainly agree that there are more familiar quotations by Shakespeare than by any other writer in the English language, and I'd be happy if the sentence - and the authors of the new references - actually said something like that, but that isn't the same as "most quoted". How often do any of you use quotations from Shakespeare? I probably quote Anna Russell more often than I do Shakespeare. Cordially, GuillaumeTell 00:29, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
You're talking about self-concious quoting, as opposed to phrases that have entered the language seamlessly. I once tried to get my mother, who had never watched Shakespeare, to watch Hamlet with me; at intermission, she declared that she was confused because "it's all Greek to me". Virtually everyone has said something was dead as a door-nail, or that they didn't sleep a wink, or that it was high time for something, or that it vanished into thin air. It should perhaps be clarified - something like "...most quoted author, whose phrases have become so common that most people are unaware of their source". - dharmabum 20:18, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
A lot of the time you're quoting Shakespeare without realizing it. Have a look at this classic paragraph by Bernard Levin: 'On Quoting Shakespeare'. Could someone add a link to this in the article? I'd do it myself if I wasn't in an expensive internet cafe. :) The Singing Badger 08:46, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
Very true, and there are many more common phrases that originate with Shakespeare. However, "farther to the thought" is wrong in this link. Also, "but me no buts" aint Shakespeare. Paul B 09:37, 26 June 2006 (UTC)