Explore the works of Shakespeare and Renaissance writers in relation to the social, political and cultural context in which they were written, and investigate the ways in which these works have been interpreted over the last four centuries.

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Themes

Explore Shakespeare and Renaissance writers by theme.

Renaissance writers

Uncover the fascinating, colourful lives of Renaissance writers including John Donne, Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe, and explore key features and themes in their groundbreaking plays and poetry.

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Handpainted illustration of gondola, a musician serenades a couple inside the boat. All four figures are wearing neck ruffs and Renaissance era dress

Shakespeare’s life and world

From the open air Globe to the candlelit Blackfriars; from countryside to city; and from noblemen to strangers, discover the world that shaped Shakespeare’s work and that influenced his legacy.

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Black and white photograph of Vivien Leigh as  Titania, with fairy wings, pointing and looking to the left

Magic, illusion and the supernatural

Mischievous fairies, monstrous apparitions and scheming witches: examine the ways in which Shakespeare and Renaissance writers played with the magical and supernatural.

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Contemporary illustration of two figures, cropped to show just a single eye, overlaid with hearts and other symbols

Tragedies

From Hamlet’s melancholy to Juliet’s eloquence; and from Othello’s misunderstanding to Doctor Faustus's damnation, discover the richness of Shakespearean and Renaissance tragedies.

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Collection items

Explore a selection of collection items that relate to Shakespeare, Renaissance writers and the context in which they produced their plays, poetry and other work.

Works

Explore key plays and poems by Shakespeare and Renaissance writers.

Poems by John Donne

Created by: John Donne

John Donne is most famous now for his witty and complex love poems, but he also produced satires, occasional poems ...

Romeo and Juliet

Created by: William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet begins with a Chorus setting the scene in the Italian city of Verona, where the Capulets and the ...

The Alchemist

Created by: Ben Jonson

The Alchemist: plot and character overview It is 1 November 1610. Plague is raging in London. To try to avoid the ...