The Undiscovered

William Sanders
Asimov’s Science Fiction, March 1997

In early performances of Paul Green’s outdoor play “The Lost Colony,” performed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina countless times since its premier in 1937, a young William Shakespeare tries to sign on with the colonists going to Roanoke, but is discouraged by Walter Raleigh, who has read his poetry and tells him to stay in London and devote himself to his work. Sanders takes this idea a step further in this story narrated by a sixteenth-century Cherokee, who claims that his tribe adopted an English colonist named Spear-Shaker. He describes a cultural clash when Spear-Shaker tried to produce a play—clearly Hamlet—but the tribe did not understand what he was trying to do. –VH

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The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series

Michael Scott
New York : Delacorte Press, 2007-2012

Written by an authority on folklore and mythology, the six book series takes place over a period of a month in the present day and across parallel “Shadowrealms.” It tells the story of 15-year old twins Sophie and Josh Newman caught up in a battle of influence and destiny between the forces of good, the Elders, and the immortal humans Nicholas Flamel and wife Perenelle, and the Dark Elders working through archenemy Dr. John Dee. Considered to be the long-sought after “twins of the prophecy” both sides seek to control the twins magical awakening that is seen as central to the survival (the Flamels) or destruction (Dee) of the human world. Continue reading

Anne Hathaway, or, Shakespeare in Love

Emma Severn
London: Richard Bentley, 1845

One of the earliest fictional portraits of Anne Hathaway and the first of several English works entitled Shakespeare in Love. Both Anne and William are idealized in the triple-decker tale of true love and sentimentality in Stratford. The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare describes the novel as “truly execrable.”

Memoirs of the Shakespear’s-Head in Covent Garden

In which are introduced many entertaining adventures, and several remarkable characters
The Ghost of Shakespeare
London: Printed for, and sold by, F. Noble, at his Circulating Library in King-Street, Covent-Garden, and J. Noble, at his Circulating Library in St. Martin’s-Court, near Leicester-Square, 1755

This early portrayal uses the ghost of Shakespeare as a guide for a series of amusing scenes and character sketches. The premise, however, is that Shakespeare is in some kind of purgatory for youthful crimes and indiscretions. As punishment, he has been wandering this earth “for two hundred and sixty moons past,” observing what fools these mortals be. –VH

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Shakes vs. Shav

A puppet show
George Bernard Shaw
London: Constable & Co., 1950

George Bernard Shaw, the man who coined the word “bardolatry” to describe—and criticize–our excessive fascination with Shakespeare, was not above bringing Shakespeare into his fiction. Here, in his last dramatic work, Shaw pits himself against the Bard in a brief puppet show written for the Lanchester Marionettes in Malvern in 1949. In ludicrous verbal sparring, the two playwrights debate the purpose of drama and their own relative literary worth until Shakespeare finally takes it upon himself to “put out the light.”

Shaw on Shakespeare: “I am convinced that he was very like myself. In fact, if I had been born in 1556 instead of in 1856, I should have taken to blank verse & given Shakespear [sic] a harder run for his money than all the other Elizabethans put together.” —VH

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The Dark Lady

George Bernard Shaw
Rough proof – unpublished
London: Constable and Company Ltd., 1910

In this brief play, William Shakespeare attempts a secret meeting with his beloved, the Dark Lady of the sonnets. He mistakenly courts another woman, however, who turns out to be Queen Elizabeth. In the course of this comedy of errors, Shakespeare shows himself to be not only a smooth operator, but also a plagiarist, lifting lines from everyone he meets (lines we know from his plays). The play also includes a plea for England to establish a National Shakespeare Theatre. —VH

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The Shakespeariad: A Dramatic Epos

Souvenir of the Tercentary of Shakespeare’s Death Day, April 23rd, 1916
Denton J. Snider
St. Louis: Sigma Publishing, 1916

This sprawling, surreal verse novel (400+ pp.) seems to be modeled in part on Spenser’s allegorical Faerie Queene, as well as the symbolic geography of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Characters from a myriad of Shakespeare’s plays mix and mingle with each other, as well as Shakespeare himself, Pandora, and more mysterious figures such as the Psychagogue and the Scholarch, in places such as “the ghost-haunted Palace of Hamlet” and “the spirit-thronged Temple of Prospero.” Shakespeare himself first appears in propria persona about half-way through the epic, when he turns up as a tourist in Venice, lovesick for “the Dark Lady.” Visiting Venice repeatedly, Shakespeare sets in motion a translatio imperii of “poesy’s world-empire” from Venice to England to America. His “peopled creation” will give way to a “higher efflorescence,” a “limitless future,” in the “coming Seculum” of America, which he compares to Atlantis. The “Magic City” of “Shakespearopolis,” marred by racial bigotry and the subjugation of women, will give way to “Prosperopolis,” the city founded by Prospero, the first American.–PG

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Shake-speare’s Sweetheart

Sara Hawks Sterling
Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs and Co., 1905

The “most artistic gift book of the year” according to one advertisement of its day, this romantic picture of Shakespeare’s love life purports to come from a manuscript by Ben Jonson, who recorded the story as told by Anne Hathaway herself. Anne is a more active and endearing character than usual, resorting to cross-dressing at one point to visit Shakespeare in London. Illustrated in an Arts and Crafts style by Clara Elsene Peck (1883-1968). Shakespeare is a nervous playwright on the brink of great fame. He is admired by many, but always, of course, a loyal husband.

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Dogg’s Hamlet

Tom Stoppard
In Tom Stoppard Plays: I
London: Faber and Faber, 1996

The two short pieces that eventually became Dogg’s Hamlet were first presented in 1971. They bring together an enactment of a philosophical scenario envisioned by Wittgenstein about the mutual intelligibility of language, as well as a radically condensed “15-Minute Hamlet” performance. Shakespeare appears as a character when the first section of the play transitions to the second. He appears in the role of prologue to the Hamlet production, and proceeds to speak several lines, jumbled together, from the play, including “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” and “To be or not to be.” The lines don’t cohere into anything but a tapas-like selection of Shakespearean appetizers. Shakespeare can describe his own work only by reference to itself, and yet his “chorus” still feels uncannily lucid. That this speechis not intelligible in itself, but still has unmistakable aesthetic power, is both a testament to the familiarity and cultural weight of Hamlet, if even in its fragments, and to Shakespeare’s line-by-line poetic craftsmanship, as well as a reflection on Stoppard/Wittengenstein’s investigation into language as a tool for creating communion as well as alienation. Dogg’s Hamlet is often presented (as it is in the Faber and Faber edition of Stoppard’s plays) alongside a companion piece, Cahoot’s Macbeth, a play that derives from Stoppard’s involvement with the Charter ’77 movement, and which deals explicitly with the fate of theater under totalitarianism. But while Shakespeare is discussed in this play, only in Dogg’s Hamlet does Shakespeare appear as a character. –BW

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Dark Lady

Karen Sunde
The Dramatic Publishing Company, 1988

Less a characterization of Shakespeare, who appears as a fairly traditional lover attempting to woo an unreachable prize, than another theory in fictional form, about the Dark Lady of the sonnets. Sunde argues for Emilia Bassano (1569-1645), an English musician and poet (later Emilia Lanier). Emilia was the mistress of Henry Carey, Elizabeth’s Lord Chamberlain. Shakespeare, as one of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, may have had contact with her. A beauty, she is described as “black” by some contemporaries and may also have had some Jewish heritage. In this play, Shakespeare is the enamored poet who finds inspiration in this remarkable—and historic—woman. —VH

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