Shakespeare’s beagle

She’s a beagle true-bred, and one that adores me. Twelfth Night, Act 2 Scene 3 l. 172

I love Shakespeare. For over thirty years I worked just yards from where he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, caring for one of the most important library and archive collections devoted to his writings in the world. During that time I’ve found the answers to endless enquiries and talked to thousands of people about his life, his works and their performance. I’ve met many people for whom Shakespeare is still very much alive.

My connection with Shakespeare, though, goes much deeper than this. My father was born just opposite the Swan Theatre, attended Shakespeare’s school and won the gold Shakespeare medal awarded by the famous novelist Marie Corelli who lived nearby. It is to him I owe my early introduction to Shakespeare – in his spare time he lectured on Shakespeare’s life and regularly took me to the theatre.

His father was sub-sacristan at Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was baptised and buried, and where his family are also interred. He often showed important people around the church, including the famous actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Ellen Terry. Later he worked as the guide at Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

So I have Shakespeare in my DNA, but why am I writing a blog? People all round the world also love Shakespeare and his position as a cultural icon is unrivalled. He still has much to say to us today in spite of all the changes of the past four centuries. His ability to express the deepest of human emotions in words has never been equalled, and his phrases have passed into the English language.

Stratford’s place in his story is unique. It is the place where he was born, where he chose to retire, and where he is buried. The cult of Shakespeare began here, and still flourishes. The town and surrounding areas hold many of the keys to helping us understand Shakespeare’s work. Visitors and pilgrims from all round the world visit the town, but they rarely have the time to immerse themselves in the details that make it so special. His plays have been performed here by one of the world’s greatest theatre companies, the Royal Shakespeare Company and their predecessors, since 1879.

In this blog I’m hoping to explore his world, his writing and the music, art, literature and performances which he’s inspired, and to get contributions from specialists in their own areas. Come along with me as I walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps.

Sylvia Morris

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7 Responses to Shakespeare’s beagle

  1. Dear Shakespeare’s Beagle,

    Regarded as the world’s greatest playwright and poet, William Shakespeare has produced timeless plays that have reached every generation. This summer and fall, NCM Fathom, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London and Art Alliance Media invite you to experience classical Shakespeare titles in movie theaters nationwide. Shakespeare’s Globe London Cinema Series will transport you to the prestigious and internationally renowned Globe Theatre in London to experience these plays from the front row “pit”, just as Shakespeare’s audience did over 400 years ago.

    This four-part series continues with Henry IV Part 1 on Monday, August 1; Henry IV Part 2 on Thursday, August 18; and Henry VIII on Thursday, September 15. Each show is at 6:30pm local time.

    The Globe Theatre provides an intriguing historical backdrop to these productions. Originally built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company, the Theatre housed Shakespeare’s plays until it was destroyed in a fire in 1642 after a malfunction with a prop cannon during Henry VIII. Each of the Shakespeare’s Globe London Cinema Series performances will include a historical perspective on the Globe – the reconstruction process to restore the Theatre, the work of the Globe today, and a behind-the-scenes look at each production with interviews from the actors and creative team involved.

    We are asking you to support these exclusive events by sharing information about Shakespeare’s Globe London Cinema Series with your readers through mediums such as e-newsletters, Facebook and Twitter. We hope it will inspire group outings and continued dialogue after you leave the theater. We have created a microsite full of event details and digital offerings including banners, trailers and social media posts for you to easily share with your audience. For more details about Shakespeare’s Globe London Cinema Series and ways in which you can help promote the events visit You can find information on participating theaters and purchase tickets at .

    Please let us know if we can provide other information or assets to facilitate your outreach. Thank you for your support and enjoy the shows!



    Sara Reichert
    Pure on behalf of NCM Fathom
    2401 Larimer Street
    Denver, CO 80205
    Phone: 303-625-1069
    Fax: 303-845-9588

    Visit our blog at

    • Sylvia Morris says:

      Dear Sara
      I’m very excited about these events – our local cinema is screening them (though the timings seem to be different) and I picked up a leaflet just yesterday. I will be going to at least one of them and will certainly be writing about the experience on my blog! Thank you so much for your comment. I’ll take a look at your site too!

  2. Deborah Selden says:

    Dear Ms. Morris:
    I recently joined your merry audience. Thank you so much for posting this terrific blog. Being dyslexic, I discovered Shakespeare about the age of 8 through Classics Illustrated’s “Julius Caesar.” I then proceeded to collect as many of Shakespeare’s plays in comic book form as I could find in West Texas. When I entered 10th grade, Mrs. Jones handed out workbooks for Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet. The plays changed my life! I wrote my master’s thesis on “Richard III” and my doctoral dissertation on “1 Henry 6.” My day job is serving as a lawyer, but my heart belongs to the bard.
    Deborah Selden

    • Sylvia Morris says:

      Dear Deborah,
      Thanks so much for your message. I didn’t have space to talk about the use of pictures as a way of helping students make sense of Shakespeare but I know from many conversations with teachers how helpful they can be. There have been, too, some wonderful comic books of the plays, powerfully illustrated. I hope you continue to enjoy the blog, and I look forward to hearing from you again.

  3. Marina Litvinova says:

    Dear Ms Morris
    thank you very much for an interesting piece of information concerning “The Merry Wives of Windsor”. I enjoy your blog and looking forward to getting more unknown information on Shakespeare. I am one of those “around the world who also love Shakespeare and for whom his position as a cultural icon is unrivalled.”

  4. Norbert Timm says:

    Hello Ms. Morris,
    why do I visit the Globe every year: because it’s the Bard that interests me most.
    We’ ll be in the theatre this year on June 12 ( matinee.) What a fantastic Twelth Night
    in 2004 when the singer sang his song and it really started to rain at the end.
    I am looking forward to June 2013.
    Best wishes
    Norbert Timm
    48161 Münster / Germany

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