‘A delightful society’ …

holinshedYou are holding in your hands one of the most interesting, influential – and readable – books in British history.

Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland have long been famous as the key source of Shakespeare’s history plays.  Given the role of Shakespeare’s view of Tudor history in shaping English nationalism, Holinshed’s long-term influence on British culture and English literature can hardly be overstated.  Michael Wood (intro), Holinshed Chronicles  (The Folio Society:  London, 2012)

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A plague on both your houses …

BH The Black Death 2‘When ignorant men are overwhelmed by forces totally beyond their control and their understanding it is inevitable that they will search for some explanation within their grasp.  When they are frightened and badly hurt then they will seek someone on whom they can be revenged. […]  What was needed, therefore, was a suitable target for the indignation of the people, preferably a minority group, easily identifiable, already unpopular, widely scattered and lacking any powerful protector.’

Philip Ziegler, The Black Death, (The Folio Society, London: 1997)  Cover image:  Francis Mosley

The plague was too immediate, too visceral, for Shakespeare to include more than a passing reference to it in his plays.  In Romeo and Juliet it’s a factor in the tragedy, but at a safe distance.

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Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting)

BH Elizabethan Underworld

‘Elizabethan London was livelier, noisier, smellier, probably more dangerous and certainly more colourful than the city we know today.’  

Gamino Salgãdo, The Elizabethan Underworld, (The Folio Society, London: 2006)

Just another Saturday night at The Boar’s Head, Eastcheap?

I needed cheering after going back to school today at the end of the Easter Holidays.  And, look what I collected from the Post Office on the way home …

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#MYSHX400 (Happy Birthday, Will)

BH MySHX400-OG

So.  I owe the inspiration for this post – wanting to do something to celebrate the birthday – to ohforamuseofire, who herself got the questions from Folger Shakespeare Library project.  I wonder how, if at all, my answers might change over the next few years, as the PonyTail Shakespeare project progresses …

What does Shakespeare mean to you?

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PTS 03/014: Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable …

BH Blanche Dubois
“Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.  It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty.”  (BLANCHE:  A Streetcar Named Desire (scene 10), Tennessee Williams)

Henry VI part III: Act I

So …

Part III begins, as Part II ended, with Warwick, perhaps reinforcing his role as ‘kingmaker’, and with the suspicion – to be dealt with later, maybe – that Henry is a ‘Jonah’ on the battlefield.  Whoever’s side he appears on (note I don’t say ‘fights’ on) he seems to suck the fighting spirit out of the army like a Dementor whose puppy has just been killed in a hit-and-run accident …

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PTS 02/013: The Force is strong in you, young Skywalker

BH anakin
What country, friends, is this?

subtitled:  The Middle Child, and Darth Vader

It seems an eternity since that I fell into this play, full of fears for my adopted country, and so it has been. My views on how work has impacted on my ability to blog over the last month or so probably need to wait until I’m not feeling as ‘wasp stung and impatient’ as Harry Hotspur. Anyway, as we hit the end of this play my fears for England have receded, at least. In fact, I’m struggling to feel fearful at all. I’m a spectator, but a fully engaged one.

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