Tales from Shakespeare

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1922 frontispiece illustration for Tales from Shakespeare

Tales from Shakespeare also known as All the Tales from Shakespeare is an English children's book written by Charles Lamb with his sister Mary Lamb in 1807. It was illustrated by Sir John Gilbert in 1866, Arthur Rackham in 1899 and 1909,[1] by Louis Monziès in 1908,[2] by Walter Paget in 1910,[3] and by D. C. Eyles in 1934.[1] In 1894, a two-volume set with color plate illustrations and a preface by H.S. Morris, was published jointly by the J.B. Lippincott Company in Philadelphia, and in London by William Heinemann.[4]

The book reduced the archaic English and complicated storyline of Shakespeare to a simple level that children could read and comprehend. However, as noted in the author's Preface, "his words are used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in; and in whatever has been added to give them the regular form of a connected story, diligent care has been taken to select such words as might least interrupt the effect of the beautiful English tongue in which he wrote: therefore, words introduced into our language since his time have been as far as possible avoided."

Mary Lamb was responsible for the comedies, while Charles wrote the tragedies; they wrote the preface between them. Next to his essays, this book is his best-known work; yet its success is attributable more to Mary, whose name did not appear on the title page of the first few editions, than to Charles.[citation needed]

In Volume One, the following plays were selected and adapted into tales:

  1. The Tempest (Mary Lamb)
  2. A Midsummer Night's Dream (Mary Lamb)
  3. The Winter's Tale (Mary Lamb)
  4. Much Ado About Nothing (Mary Lamb)
  5. As You Like It (Mary Lamb)
  6. Two Gentlemen of Verona (Mary Lamb)
  7. The Merchant of Venice (Mary Lamb)
  8. Cymbeline (Mary Lamb)
  9. King Lear (Charles Lamb)
  10. Macbeth (Charles Lamb)
  11. All's Well That Ends Well (Mary Lamb)
  12. The Taming of the Shrew (Mary Lamb)
  13. The Comedy of Errors (Mary Lamb)
  14. Measure for Measure (Mary Lamb)
  15. Twelfth Night (Mary Lamb)
  16. Timon of Athens (Charles Lamb)
  17. Romeo and Juliet (Charles Lamb)
  18. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Charles Lamb)
  19. Othello (Charles Lamb)
  20. Pericles, Prince of Tyre (Mary Lamb)

In Volume Two, the following plays were adapted into tales:

  1. Love's Labour's Lost
  2. Merry Wives of Windsor
  3. Troilus and Cressida
  4. King John
  5. Richard II
  6. Henry IV Part 1
  7. Henry IV Part 2
  8. Henry V
  9. Henry VI, Part 1
  10. Henry VI, Part 2
  11. Henry VI, Part 3
  12. Richard III
  13. Henry VIII
  14. Coriolanus
  15. Julius Caesar
  16. Antony and Cleopatra


  1. ^ a b Norman Wright and David Ashford, Masters of Fun and Thrills: The British Comic Artists Vol. 1, Norman Wright (pub.), 2008, p. 65
  2. ^ Published by Boston : D. C. Heath & Co., 1908
  3. ^ "Full Citation". University of Florida Digital Collections. University of Florida. Retrieved July 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Full Citation". HathiTrust Digital Library. HathiTrust. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 

Notes: The volume 2 of Tales from Shakespeare mentioned in this article was actually written by Harrison Smith Morris (1856-1948) and first published in 1893. The Lambs' Tales from Shakespeare was first published in 1807, and consisted only the first 20 stories. Hence, The Volume 2 of Tales from Shakespeare mentioned in this article is not the work of Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb.

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