Peter Holland holds the McMeel Family Chair in Shakespeare Studies in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame. He wrote the entry on Shakespeare in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (December 2004)


Mystery Man

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

by Stephen Greenblatt
In April 1873 Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine published a short play called Shakespeare’s Funeral written by Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Hamley, author of a standard study of military strategy, The Operations of War (1864), and a regular contributor to Blackwood’s on matters military and imperial. As the play opens on April 25, 1616, …


Hamlet in Purgatory

by Stephen Greenblatt
Describing his new book, Stephen Greenblatt writes that it is “about the afterlife of Purgatory, the echoes of its dead name. Specifically, it is about the traces of Purgatory in Hamlet.” Central to the book is Hamlet’s most famous speech, the one that actors playing the role dread above all …

Culture Ho!

The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century

by John Brewer
As John Brewer, in his exhilarating remapping of eighteenth-century culture in The Pleasures of the Imagination, turns his attention from the engravings of Thomas Bewick to the provincial musical life of the amateur musician John Marsh, he takes a sideswipe at the readers of this journal: The memory of Thomas …

Maid, Man, and Jew

Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare's England

by Steven Orgel

Shakespeare and the Jews

by James Shapiro
How does a girl become a boy? In his recent film version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Trevor Nunn shows us the shipwrecked Viola transforming herself into Cesario in order to be employed by Orsino. Her long hair is cut into a pageboy’s bob; she binds her breasts tightly against her …

Not Having It All

Mrs. Jordan's Profession:The Actress and the Prince

by Claire Tomalin
While staying in Leeds in July 1782, Tate Wilkinson, the successful manager of a theater company touring the north of England, received a message asking him to visit Grace Phillips, an actress who, as Mrs. Francis, had once played Desdemona to his Othello. He found Grace and her three children …