I believe that if you want to understand Shakespeare’s plays, then understanding the life of William Shakespeare, the man, is essential. This podcast is designed to help you explore early modern England as Shakespeare would have lived it by interviewing the historians, performers, authors, and experts that know him best.
When we think about WIlliam Shakespeare, we almost synonymously think of him holding a quill pen, or furiously scratching away on a piece of parchment with ink on his hands creating a masterpiece. When it comes to the history of writing, pens in particular, and even references to writing that happens inside Shakespeare’s plays, the world of writing instruments in Shakespeare’s lifetime was really widely varied. Not only were there other options beyond the infamous quill pen, but it’s highly likely many of Shakespeare’s plays were actually taken down using a precursor to the same No. 2 pencils many of us create our artwork with today.
Here to help us explore the history of writing instruments in England, including table books, graphite pencils, and a delightful look at Elizabethan erasers, is professor of Shakespeare and early modern drama, Tiffany Stern.
Tiffany is a professor at The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford Upon Avon, England, where she is a bastion of knowledge in Shakespeare, publishing several books and articles on topics exploring the relationship between history and the text of Shakespeare’s plays. She is the General Editor, with Peter Holland and Zachary Lesser, of the next complete Arden Shakespeare series. In addition to giving annual invited and plenary talks at a range of international universities, She has held several visiting professorships in the USA, New Zealand, and Australia. She has given talks at the Globe and National Theatre, written program notes for both, and is a member of the Globe’s Architectural Research Group.
- What other writing instruments existed in Shakespeare’s time?
- What was a table book and why was it used?
- Did patrons take notes during a theater performance?
- Are any of Shakespeare’s plays we have today compiled from table books?
- …and more!
Related Products You Might Enjoy:
Books & Resources Recommended by Tiffany Stern:
Read more about table books, and writing instruments during Shakespeare’s lifetime here:
Folger Library: Technologies of Writing in the Age of Print
Writing Tables and Table Books by H. R.Woudhuysen
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