Our monthly subscription service called Experience Shakespeare delivers digital history activity kits once a month that takes a tidbit of Shakespeare's history, that also appears in his plays, and shows you how it happened, and gives you a small way you can try this out at home to Experience Shakespeare for yourself. In addition to the video and instructions you will find here, the full digital history activity kit contains primary sources, archival images, links to 16th century paintings, a printable map about the life of William Shakespeare, and special vendor offers from our partners that are not even offered on their company pages–they are ONLY extended to subscribers of Experience Shakespeare.


To learn more about Elizabethan games, and card games in particular, check out That Shakespeare Girl's episode on “Did Shakespeare Play Card Games?

Keep scrolling to the bottom of this page to download the printable instructions by signing up for the newsletter that goes out every Monday.

If you would like to play with the deck of cards William Shakespeare might have used, the deck closest to that I have been able to find is MacGregor Historic Games 16th Century French Cards This 16th century French card deck would have most likely been circulating around England during Shakespeare's lifetime, as the English had French cards imported frequently, considering French playing cards to be a superior kind.

To give you a look inside the kits, I am sharing a video lesson and instructions from our very first kit: How to Play Noddy. Noddy is a 16th century card game mentioned in Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona.

There are many card games from Elizabethan England that Shakespeare might have played, and the act of playing cards comes up pretty often in the works of the bard. Here are just a few examples: 

“Eros has packed cards with Caesar and false-played my glory.” – Antony and Cleopatra 

“Have I not here the best cards for the game? To win is no easy match played for a crown.” – King John V. 2

“A sure card as ever won the set.” – Titus Andronicus V. 1

“That set together is noddy.” – Two Gentlemen of Verona I.1

When we ask the question: Did Shakespeare play cardsThe answer is yes, most likely he did. Like so many things about Shakespeare, we don't have a signed affidavit certifying anything, but what we do know is that cards were popular during the 16th century, this specific game is still played in Lancastershire, England, today, (though largely considered an extinct game outside of these few rumors about Lancastershire) and William Shakespeare referenced this game by name at least three times in his plays.

To try this game at home, you'll need instructions, and someone to show you how to play, which is exactly what we bring you inside our Experience Shakespeare Kits. Sign up today to have a kit sent to you every month.

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16th Century French Playing Cards | From MacGregor Games
$6.00 USD

Bicycle Montague Vs. Capulet Playing Cards
$9.95 USD

Shakespeare Quotes Playing Cards
$10.07 USD

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I have created a printable on How to Play Noddy (which is a handy reference when sitting at a table), just for my email subscribers. If you would like to become an email subscriber, you can sign up using the form below and immediately download this free resource to get started. Unsubscribe at any time and keep the download as my gift to you.