Caribbean, Countries, Europe, UK

400 years of Will’s World

And as if we need an excuse it’s 400 years of Will’s World… excellent, party on, as we mark four centuries since his folios were first published.

And as the companion the BBC will no doubt ask me for, to support the fine Shakespeare: Rise of a Genius series, here’s his go-to sets.

Anyone for Venice

Waking on water: In Venice

Venice: The republic of Venice with its rich maritime empire and narrow, sinister alleyways was fertile ground for Will.

And where he set The Merchant of Venice (the clue is in the title) and Othello, studies in anti-semitism and racism.

The lagoon city’s labyrinthine closes remain relatively unchanged since Will’s day.

So visitors with any literary knowledge can conjure up Iago and Cassio, and in the Ghetto the money-lender Shylock.

The prints of Denmark

You got skulls: And alas poor Yoric

Kronborg Castle, Denmark: And the inspiration for Will’s most celebrated creation and play Hamlet.

A lookout post at the Royal Danish Castle of Elsinore… between northern Jutland and modern-day Sweden.

Where every summer the Danes put on the play… wherein we’ll catch the conscience of the king of theatre.

Where it be done

Any witch way: Macbeth

Scotland: Where it be done it be done quickly, to misquote Will and Lady Macbeth.

The newly amalgamated Scotland is naturally the setting for Will’s new project, the glorification of King James I of Great Britain.

And helpfully for us he namechecks those dramatic places in the north… Inverness, Dunsinane, Cawdor and Glamis Castle.

Athens is a classic

Spoiled and ruined: At the Acropolis in Athens

Athens: And you’d think that any focus would be on the play which references the classical Greek city, Timon of Athens.

But that tale of the Athenian who squanders his riches on parasitic companions until he is poor and they reject him.

But for real Atheniana we turn to Midsummer’s Night Dream where four Athenian lovers are manipulated by fairies.


Shakespeare not stirred: Tenerife

Bermuda: And to show that Will’s World, like his imagination, stretched far and wide we’ll take you to an exotic island.

Of course we know Will liked a foreign isle for his characters’ adventures.

From Othello’s travels in Cyprus among others.

While we know too from our own peregrinations in Tenerife that Shakespeare was fond of Canarian wine.

But it was Bermuda where Will sent Prospero.

Inspired by William Strachey’s letter on the shipwreck of the Sea Venture off Bermuda in 1609.


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