A Year in Shakespeare

axc0019-0My project for 2015 is to read all 38 of Shakespeare’s canonical plays, which works out roughly as reading and posting about a play every 9 days. To make things interesting, I’m going to read each play in a different edition, ranging from Renaissance quartos (or, more likely, their facsimiles) to ornate private press editions to modern critical texts. If you’d like to recommend an edition for a particular play – or still more generously, to send me one – get in touch in the comments section below.

One goal is to be able to tick off the Complete Works of Shakespeare when it makes its inevitable appearance in the list of 100 books to read before you die, instead of mumbling caveats about how I only got halfway through Richard III, and never bothered with Timon of Athens. Another is to find some pleasure in writing about great literature in an easy and relaxed manner, while I’m labouring over the stiff and formal pages of my doctoral thesis. Another is to read some unique editions in a series of unique places, and get a few good stories of my own from it.

I’ve decided to make it easy on myself and proceed in the First Folio order, genre by genre, rather than getting bogged down in the vexed questions of chronology. This means I’ll be reading the plays in this order:


The Tempest

Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Merry Wives of Windsor

Measure for Measure

The Comedy of Errors

Much Ado about Nothing

Love’s Labours Lost

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Merchant of Venice

As You Like It

The Taming of the Shrew

All’s Well that Ends Well

Twelfth Night

The Winter’s Tale


The Life and Death of King John

The Life and Death of Richard the Second

The First part of King Henry the Fourth

The Second part of King Henry the Fourth

The Life of King Henry the Fifth

The First part of King Henry the Sixth

The Second part of King Henry the Sixth

The Third part of King Henry the Sixth

The Life and Death of Richard the Third

The Life of King Henry the Eighth


Troilus and Cressida

The Tragedy of Coriolanus

Titus Andronicus

Romeo and Juliet

Timon of Athens

The Life and Death of Julius Caesar

The Tragedy of Macbeth

The Tragedy of Hamlet

King Lear

Othello, the Moor of Venice

Anthony and Cleopatra

Cymbeline King of Britain


Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Two Noble Kinsmen


2 thoughts on “A Year in Shakespeare

  1. I read all the plays for my 70 year in a single volume edition without footnotes. It was a fantastic experience. My marked up copy is one of my most precious possessions. The Bard was actually much better than I had expected from what I remember from my youthful encounters in school. Don Potter, Odessa, TX

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