Welcome to Episode #027 of That Shakespeare Life, the podcast that takes you behind the curtain and into the life of William Shakespeare.

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.

Christopher Oldstone-Moore joins us today to discuss the history of Shakespeare’s beard and to answer questions about what we can tell about the bard’s personality and position in society from his choice of facial grooming.

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Christopher Oldstone-Moore is Senior Lecturer at Wright State University author of the book Of Beards and Men: The Revealing History of Facial Hair His research focuses on gender and masculinity, and particularly the aspect of the hair and body. He published “Social Science, Gender Theory and the History of Hair,” in New Perspectives on the History of Facial Hair” in 2018, received the Wright State Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence, Outstanding Lecturer, in 2016, among many additional awards and publications.

Learn more about Christopher and see his awards and publications here.

In this episode, I’ll be asking Christopher about :

  • Did Shakespeare have to pay a tax to wear a beard under Queen Elizabeth?
  • What was involved in going to the barber?
  • What was the opinion of Elizabethan society about men wearing beards? Was it a sign of wisdom or a lack of personal grooming?
  • Was there a particular style of beard which was most popular, and if so, is the one depicted in the Chandos portrait fitting to that style?
  • …and more!

This is a painting of Pope Julius II done by Raphael and hangs in the National Gallery in London. 
We will be visiting the National Gallery –where Shakespeare's Chandos portrait is housed–in September 2019. Find out more, and how to travel with us at www.cassidycash.com/travelshakespeare

Pope Julius II, known as “Raphael's Pope,” for appearing in Raphael's work as St. Gregory, and in some of Raphael's frescoes, stepped severely away from traditional catholic thought and tradition when just a few years (some scholars say as few as 4) before the year 1513 (the year of his death), he started wearing a long beard, as shown in this photo. As Christopher Oldstone-Moore shares in today's episode, the beard carried with it strong religious and political implications. You can read more about Raphael, Pope Julius, and his beard in his paper by Mark Zucker (1977)Note this paper is available for free online if you setup a no-cost JSTOR account, but to download or to subscribe to JSTOR there is a fee. 

Shakespeare is most likely sporting a VanDyke style beard in this, the Chandos Portrait of William Shakespeare.

Do you agree? Tell me in the comments!

This is Shakespeare's Chandos Portrait, the one most likely to be actually of William Shakespeare, housed at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

We will be seeing the Chandos portrait up close and personal September 16-20, 2019 as part of the Life of Shakespeare Tour and tickets are available NOW! So if you would like to get your own look at Shakespeare's beard and determine his style, you can do that and so much more on this trip of a lifetime. Find out more (and grab your spot!) on this limited-seat tour, right here.

Pictured: Copy of “Foot Surgery”, by Dusart Cornelis, late 17th Century. It was common for barbers to be the town's medical professional in the absence of a doctor (and sometimes even when there was one!) 

I must to the barber's, monsieur; for
methinks I am marvellous hairy about the face.

Bottom

A Midsummer Night's Dream IV. 1

William Shakespeare likely went to a barber which was not much different than what we think of barbers being like today, with the notable exception that today's barbers do not dabble in medicine or offer surgery on the side. Their barber shops, however, did contain barber chairs, basins, and even straight razors like the ones we see barbers using in the 21st century.

And what this fourteen years no razor touch'd,
To grace thy marriage-day, I'll beautify.

Pericles

Pericles V.3

From Folger Library's exhibit, Shakespeare in 100 Objects, this is a picture of an Elizabethan straight razor used in the 16-17th centuries in England. As you can tell, the technology has not changed significantly in over 400 years.

To view the other 99 objects in their exhibit or to learn more about this one, visit their blog here, Shakespeare in 100 Objects

A barber's shop, in the foreground a man cutting another's hair, in the background a man washing another's hair. This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. Refer to Wellcome blog post

Hath any man seen him at the barber's?

Don Pedro

Much Ado About Nothing III.2

Right down to draping customers with a sheet, this depiction by Swiss artist, Jost Amman (1539–1591), shows us that going to the barber for a haircut and trim was almost exactly like a visit to the local barber today.

Books Christopher Recommends:

 

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What's inside:

  • 6 pages of Shakespeare history all about beards and men's facial hair styles in 16th century England
  • Iconographic diagram of 9 popular styles of beard
  • an outline of 7 different portraits of Shakespeare (along with notes about which ones are legitimate) and my analysis of the style being pictured in each one
  • quotes from Shakespeare's plays all about beards
  • Fun Fact about how beards were used on the Elizabethan stage
  • …and more!

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I'll send you this free Elizabethan Beards Ebook to welcome you.

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    What's inside:

    • 6 pages of Shakespeare history all about beards and men's facial hair styles in 16th century England
    • Iconographic diagram of 9 popular styles of beard
    • an outline of 7 different portraits of Shakespeare (along with notes about which ones are legitimate) and my analysis of the style being pictured in each one
    • quotes from Shakespeare's plays all about beards
    • Fun Fact about how beards were used on the Elizabethan stage
    • …and more!

    Subscribe to That Shakespeare Girl Newsletter

    Get Weekly Shakespeare History Delivered Right to Your Inbox and
    I'll send you this free Elizabethan Beards Ebook to welcome you.

      Powered By ConvertKit
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