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Royal Baby a descendant of Shakespeare? | Fit for a Fool

By September 12, 2014 One Comment

The King is But a Man as I am” – wise words Will and closer to the truth than you might think, or so the historians claim.

This week the world has been taken by storm over the news that another royal baby is on the way, pushing Harry further back to number 5 in line although something tells me he’s probably quite glad about this, maybe he even shares a little in common with his Shakespearean counterpart Hal of Henry IV.. I’m sure he’d step-up if needed but the pressures off, at least for the time being. I know I know, you thought you could get away from it all and hide in Shakespearean foolery. Well, not quite. Sure this may not seem like news to you but whether you’re a royal loving fanatic or a hard core republican you can’t avoid the mania that’s taken over again following the announcement on Monday. It’s all over the TV. But also on TV this week if you’re a Brit was a documentary entitled The Secret Life of Books which this week was about Shakespeare’s First Folio presented by Simon Russell Beale (remember the National Theatre’s King Lear? Yep. That one) and actually Shakespeare and the new royal bump have more in common than you might think. Not only will they both continue to hit our screens for the foreseeable future, but according to an article by TIME the new royal baby will actually be a descendent of Shakespeare (as well as Count Dracula, George Washington and, you know, his Father’s royal bloodline too). This article looks back to the announcement of the birth of Diana’s suitably Shakespeare named son, William and a book published soon after which suggested William was related to Mary Arden. Although he can only claim to be “fourth cousin 15 times removed” to Shakespeare that’s a lot closer than many of us could get to Will! I’ll leave you mathematicians and genealogists to work out what relation that makes the new royal-baby-in-waiting to Shakespeare.


Over on Twitter the hashtag #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly also saw some Shakespeare related flicks and appropriations being explained in an unusual fashion. The question is, can you guess which movie is which?

Well you get the idea. But then this hashtag was adapted for Shakespeare foolery lovers all round, yes that’s right! #ExplainAShakespearePlayBadly or #ExplainAShakespearePlotBadly here’s a few good’uns to get you started but the hashtags are well worth checking out if you fancy a spot of Shakespearean procrastination.

After the hype over the two gentlemen of England – the royals ones this week – the two gentlemen causing a stir over at the RSC reside in fair Verona – where we lay our scene for the next piece of news. The Guardian published an article by Mark Lawson but before we jump into it how many Shakespeare plays have you seen, each play only counts once so if you’ve seen 5 Twelfth Night‘s and one Midsummer Night’s Dream sorry, that’s still only two plays. Even the most avid fans of Shakespeare would struggle to claim they’d seen the whole canon, even if they live in Stratford-upon-Avon. Especially as the canon itself keeps changing – but that’s another matter. Lawson can claim to have seen more than most missing only two – and thanks to the RSC’s Two Gentlemen of Verona he’s only got one to go. Although he is right, new and Shakespeare is an unusual concept nowadays, “the concept of a “new” play by Shakespeare generally involves the resurrection (often by the RSC) of a lost or multi-authored work”. There seem to be some plays which are over stages and no not just that one about the bloke who can’t decide which apartment to rent (2b or not 2b). Others get sadly missed or only presented as part of another more famous work. The tales of poor Henry VI are a case in point even Lawson – something of a Shakespeare playgoer connoisseur – struggled. “If you exclude Henry VI Part 3 – which I’ve seen only in various mash-ups of the monarchical plays – then the one remaining Shakespeare for me is The Two Noble Kinsmen, which is probably more of a John Fletcher. And, despite RSC artistic director Greg Doran’s noble scheme to present all 36 plays in the first folio over six years – rather than a rotation of the most famous or A-level texts – that peak may remain out of reach, as Noble Kinsmen wasn’t in the first folio.” No matter where you are in the world seeing the whole canon seems to be almost a mission impossible. Ok this article isn’t as foolish as the rest of this week’s news perhaps, but with all the craziness of the royals sometimes we need a spot of Shakespeare to bring us back to reality!

On that note there’s also a quiz kicking about this week. Worth a few moments of your time. Test your Shakespeare knowledge and can you guess which character is dying. Click here to find out.

And finally, with the birthday of Colin Firth this week, his encounter with Blackadder when he plays Shakespeare popped up on social media again. If you haven’t seen the Blackadder: Back and Forth here’s a little snippet. And until next time, keep foolin’ around with Shakespeare!


Author Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters is a PhD student at Oxford Brookes University, England where she is currently researching female melancholia in the early modern period (as presented in Shakespearean and early modern drama and proto-medical treatises) and contemporary female depression. She is interested in all things Shakespeare related, particularly contemporary Shakespeare adaptation and appropriation.

More posts by Sarah Waters

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