Shakespeare may have died 400 years ago, but his works have proven both timely and timeless. In fact, Shakespeare's creations are unavoidable; phrases he coined are used every day. Countless filmmakers have adapted and modernized his plays including the much beloved adaptation 10 Things I Hate About You starring Heath Ledger and Romeo + Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Claire Danes. Then there are the novelizations...countless authors have been inspired by his timeless tales of mistaken identities, loyal (and not-so-loyal) children, murderous Senators, and more. A new project from The Hogarth Press is pairing acclaimed and bestselling authors with Shakespeare's works -- Gillian Flynn will take on Hamlet, Margaret Atwood is retelling The Tempest, and Tracy Chevalier will re-work Othello. Below we've shared some of our favorite novels inspired by The Bard of Avon, including a few from the Hogarth Shakespeare project that were recently published.
Inspired by King Lear, A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley -- Larry Cook, an Iowan farmer who has worked a thousand acre plot owned by his family for generations, abruptly decides to leave his farm to his three daughters and retire. His two eldest daughters are pleased with the decision but his youngest daughter has been cut out by her father and is angry. As the daughters' activity on the land progresses, they notice a change in their father. Events begin to unfold that will threaten and destroy the family and their farm.
Inspired by The Winter's Tale, The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson -- In The Gap of Time, we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. Written with energy and wit, this is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.
Inspired by The Merchant of Venice, Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson -- In this modern re-imagining of one of Shakespeare’s most provocative characters - Shylock - Simon Strulovitch, riddled with grief after the death of his wife, struggles with his daughter Beatrice’s betrayal of family and his daughter Jessica’s rejection of her Jewish roots.
Inspired by The Taming of the Shrew, Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler -- Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work - her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner. Her father, Dr. Battista, has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost. When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying - as usual - on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?
Inspired by Hamlet, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski -- A tale reminiscent of Hamlet, which also celebrates the alliance between humans and dogs, follows speech-disabled Wisconsin youth Edgar, who bonds with three yearling canines and struggles to prove that his sinister uncle is responsible for his father's death.
Inspired by The Tempest, The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer -- Imprisoned for life aboard a zeppelin that floats high above a fantastic metropolis, the greeting-card writer Harold Winslow pens his memoirs. His only companions are the disembodied voice of Miranda Taligent, the only woman he has ever loved, and the cryogenically frozen body of her father Prospero, the genius and industrial magnate who drove her insane.
Got Shakespeare Research?
With your library card and PIN you can access Shakespeare biographies and literary criticism using our research databases. Try a keyword search for "Shakespeare" in the Literature Resource Center or MasterFILE Complete. Each resource will give you a huge variety of information like this article in History Today exploring Shakespeare's approach to history and geography or this critical review exploring the ethics of Shakespeare from the Forum for World Literature Studies.
More from Around the Web
- Folger Shakespeare Library -- First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare
- Shakespeare Birthplace Trust -- An organization dedicated to the care and maintance of Shakespeare heritage sites, plus it maintains a website and blogs that celebrate Shakespeare and his legacy.
- ouLearn on YouTube -- Shakespeare: Original Pronunciation
- The Guardian -- "West side story: How Shakespeare Stormed America's Frontier"
- B&N Reads -- "17 Contemporary Reads Inspired by William Shakespeare"
- Buzzfeed -- "Which Character from Shakespeare Are You?"