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Shakespeare and Wales

March 9, 2010

April 23rd in Cardiff

Watch this space for information about the official book launch of Shakespeare and Wales: From the Marches to the Assembly.

Edited by Willy Maley and Philip Schwyzer

Shakespeare and Wales offers a ‘Welsh correction’ to a long-standing deficiency. It explores the place of Wales in Shakespeare’s drama and in Shakespeare criticism, covering ground from the absorption of Wales into the Tudor state in 1536 to Shakespeare on the Welsh stage in the twenty-first century. Shakespeare’s major Welsh characters, Fluellen and Glendower, feature prominently, but the Welsh dimension of the histories as a whole, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Cymbeline also come in for examination. The volume also explores the place of Welsh-identified contemporaries of Shakespeare such as Thomas Churchyard and John Dee, and English writers with pronounced Welsh interests such as Spenser, Drayton and Dekker. This volume brings together experts in the field from both sides of the Atlantic, including leading practitioners of British Studies, in order to establish a detailed historical context that illustrates the range and richness of Shakespeare’s Welsh sources and resources, and confirms the degree to which Shakespeare continues to impact upon Welsh culture and identity even as the process of devolution in Wales serves to shake the foundations of Shakespeare’s status as an unproblematic English or British dramatist.”

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3 comments

  1. My general feeling about Wales and Shakespeare is that he was not anti-Welsh as some of his contemporaries were. He was not of the ‘Paddy was a Welshman/ Paddy was a thief..stole your lump of beef’ type of dismissive Englishman.

    His most Welsh play is, in my opinion, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. The whole fairy-world treatment is very much of the Welsh folklore tradition. I have identified a specific source for this, and a book which he could have used (published in the 1580s). Anybody interested in this is welcome to email me at johnidrisjones@btinternet.com

    “But we are spirits of another sort…” – the Welsh sort!

    If you accept the ‘Lancashire Theory’ then a switch over to north-east Wales is inevitable, with the Stanley/Earls of Derby family…

    John Idris Jones
    Ruthin, North Wales


  2. It may be of interest to note that Grace Williams, one of the greatest composers to come from Wales, was a passionate admirer of Shakespeare’s works. Indeed, his Henry IV, Part I provided the spark of inspiration for her own first Symphony (1943). She felt that this play contained some of his most inspired verses, and believed that his depiction of Owen Glendower (or Owain Glyndwr)) was not at all anti-Welsh. The full title of her piece is ‘Symphony no. 1 in the form of Symphonic Impressions of the Glendower scene in ‘Henry IV, Part 1’, and the first three movements depict, in musical terms, different aspects of Glendower’s character as they are presented in the play: the first movement portrays Glendower the warrior, the second, Glendower the dreamer, and the third, Glendower the magician. The symphony’s finale takes the form of an Epilogue, and is the composer’s own ‘retrospective impression of Owain Glyndwr, great figure of Welsh history’.
    Rhiannon Mathias
    Anglesey


  3. Spot the deliberate mistake! It was Taffy, not Paddy, who was the beef-stealing Welshman.

    Does this comment stem from the River Taf/Taff?

    There is a changeling child in MND. This is certainly characteristic of Welsh fairy-lore. But does such a child appear in English fairy-lore?

    Ther are some very helpful comments on the Welsh side of MND in Harold Brooks’s edition, see Introduction. Arden edition, 1979.

    If anybody would like a copy of the short paper I presented to the Cardiff symposium, I can send it digitally. Please contact me on the above address.
    JIJ



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