53. Shakespeare and Brooke Both Borrowed from North’s pre-1562 “Romeo and Juliet”: Changing Juliet’s Wedding into a Funeral

In 1562, two years before Shakespeare was born and seven years after Thomas North traveled through the Lombardy regions of Italy with the Viscount Montague, young Arthur Brooke referred to a stage tragedy on Romeo and Juliet. Brooke, who had connections to the Inns of Court, cited the play in a foreword to his longContinue reading “53. Shakespeare and Brooke Both Borrowed from North’s pre-1562 “Romeo and Juliet”: Changing Juliet’s Wedding into a Funeral”

51. Cassio’s Book-Learning vs. Iago’s Real Experiences in War (North’s Marginal Notes)

In the opening discussion of Othello, Iago criticizes the recently promoted Cassio because he knows nothing about war other than what he has read in books and does not have Iago’s actual experiences in battle. The origin of the passage clearly comes from one underscored by North in his own Dial of Princes, in whichContinue reading “51. Cassio’s Book-Learning vs. Iago’s Real Experiences in War (North’s Marginal Notes)”

6. Arden’s Speech on the Fear of God and Speech of Men

In North’s Dial of Princes, Marcus Aurelius complains that in most instances, religious teachings and concern for reputation are often enough to keep women virtuous. But, he says, “if the fear of the Gods, the infamy of the person, and the speech of men do not restrain the woman, all the chastisements of the worldContinue reading “6. Arden’s Speech on the Fear of God and Speech of Men”

Wouldn’t Someone Have Complained That Shakespeare’s Used Old Plays? (They Did!)

Another question I often hear is: “Why didn’t anyone complain about this? Why didn’t people at the time mention that Shakespeare was just working from old plays?” I always respond that many people did complain about it—and many of these complaints are well known. Literary insiders repeatedly bemoaned the fact that Shakespeare was getting tooContinue reading “Wouldn’t Someone Have Complained That Shakespeare’s Used Old Plays? (They Did!)”

Why Didn’t North Publish His Plays?

“Why would anyone write an Othello or a Macbeth and then not publish them so they could get credit for them and people could read them?” This is perhaps the most common question that I hear, and it is an excellent one. I typically respond that Shakespeare never published the majority of his plays eitherContinue reading “Why Didn’t North Publish His Plays?”