13 of March 2021
The 11th World Shakespeare Congress will be held online from the National University of Singapore on July 18–24, 2021. The Congress theme of circuits draws attention to the passage of Shakespeare’s work between places and periods, agencies and institutions, positionalities and networks of production, languages and mediums. The theme is particularly suited to the online medium of the Congress, that gathers together such passages of Shakespeare’s work not by the movements of persons between places, but by creatively connecting and expanding our circuits in multimedia and live conversations.
Database "Russian Shakespeare"
Moscow University for the Humanities

Shakespeare industry is one of the facets of the “cult of Shakespeare”.

The notion of the Shakespeare industry is generally understood both as a complex of different types of Shakespeare’s works, their theatrical, cinematographic and TV stagings, and also as commercial exploitation of the playwright’s image and those of the characters that he invented; the usage of the above-mentioned images in gift production (e.g., on T-shirts, cups, key rings, magnets, etc.). Shakespearian industry also includes the so-called intellectual tourism through the places where the playwright lived and created his masterpieces, where his famous characters lived their lives (e.g., the actual house at Stratford-upon-Avon, or the fictitious balcony of Juliet’s in Verona).

As a social and economic phenomenon, the Shakespeare industry began long ago. As far back as in the 18th century, Shakespearian places saw the earliest pilgrims worshiping the dramatist’s genius. At that time, Stratfordian businesslike townsfolk and people from the neighboring villages realized that they could make good money out of the name of their fellow-countryman. Thomas Sharp was among them. In 1758 he bought the mulberry tree cut down in the New Place garden, which was said to had been planted by Shakespeare himself. By this time, retired vicar Francis Gastrell had already purchased Shakespeare’s house. Irritated by extremely obtrusive gaping visitors, he decided not only to cut down the mulberry tree but even to destroy the playwright’s house. Thomas Sharp produced so many souvenirs out of that mulberry tree that some people doubted the authenticity of the source material. Yet, even in 1799, on his deathbed Thomas Sharp swore to it, that all the souvenirs made by him had really been carved out of the mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare.

This example illustrates the process of Shakespearean heritage entering not only intellectual discourse, but also people’s lives and everyday culture. Nowadays all around the world you can find lots of hotels and snack bars named after Shakespeare: a Shakespeare Hotel situated in the center of Old Vilnius (8/8 Bernardinu St.); Shakespeare pubs in Innsbruck, Austria, and London; the Shakespeare restaurant in Lvov (44 Lyubinskaya St.) and also a pub in Sevastopol, Ukraine, of the same name (6 Bauman St.); another restaurant in St. Petersburg (52 Revolution Rd.); the ShakesFeast restaurant in Moscow… All of these are obvious examples of the tendency. In 1964 Hamlet cigars were released in England. As for Russian TV, here the 1990s witnessed a very specific advertising campaign of the Othello cake. And as for Cyprus there you could get wine of the same name. The number of such products is endless.

Recognizable throughout the world, Shakespeare has entered the popular mind as an image that can still make us thrilled, frightened, or amused, in spite of modern life complexities.

Having been an integral part of people’s intellectual life throughout centuries, Shakespeare’s heritage has influenced works of famous writers, musicians and artists. Practically all significant personalities in the culture of Modern Times have some relation to Shakespeare. In England, to name only a few, these are Edward Young (1683(?)–1765), Samuel Johnson (1709–1784), Walter Scott (1771–1832), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) and George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950). As for Germany, here we have Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781), Johann Georg Hamann (1730–1788), Heinrich Wilhelm von Gestenberg (1737–1823), Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), Jacob Michael Reinhold Lenz (1751–1792), Friedrich Maximilian von Klinger (1752–1831), Johann Anton Leisewitz (1752–1806), Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831), brothers August Wilhelm (1767–1845) and Karl Wilhelm Schlegel (1772–1829), and Johann Ludwig Tieck (1773–1853). In France, beside admires of the dramatist’s talent (Stendhal, penname of Henri-Marie Beyle, 1783–1842), Victor Marie Hugo (1802–1885), Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot (1787–1874), etc.), there also were his antagonists (François Marie Voltaire, 1694–1778). As for Russia, Shakespeare’s hand is obviously seen in the works of A.P. Sumarokov, Catherine the Great, N.M. Karamzin, O.M. Somov, A.S. Griboyedov, W.K. Kühelbecker, A.S. Pushkin, M.P. Pogodin, A.S. Khomyakov, N.V. Gogol, M.Y. Lermontov, I.S. Turgenev, F.M. Dostoyevsky, A.N. Ostrovsky, L.N. Tolstoy, A.P. Chekhov, A.M. Gorky, A.A. Blok, M.A. Bulgakov, V.V. Nabokov, I.A. Brodsky, etc.

Many musical compositions were based on the plots of Shakespeare’s plays, and on his poems. Among the enthusiasts of the dramatist’s talent one can find Englishmen: Henry Purcell (1659–1695), Thomas Augustine Arne (1710–1778), Henry Rowley Bishop (1786–1855); German artists, such as Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809–1847), Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813–1883), Richard Strauss, Carl Orff (real name Karl Heinrich Maria, 1895–1982); Austrians Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), Franz Peter Schubert (1797–1828); the French Hector Berlioz (1803–1869), Charles-François Gounod (1818–1893); the Italian composer Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (1813–1901), Czech composer Antonín Dvoák (1841–1904), Finn Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), American of Swiss origin Ernest Bloch (1880–1959), Russian composers A.A. Alyabyev (1787–1851), M.A. Balakirev (1836(1837)–1910), P.I. Tchaikovsky (1840–1893), S.S. Prokofiev (1891–1953), D.B. Kabalevsky (1904–1987), D.D. Shostakovitch (1906–1975), and others.

In Britain, there exists a whole Shakespearian trend in music, and practically the same can be said about most other cultures. The list of great composers whose works were inspired by the dramatist’s characters and plots is eloquent enough. Those composers are John Dowland (1563–1626), Robert Johnson (c. 1583–1633), Matthew Locke (c. 1621–1677), Richard Leveridge (c. 1670–1758), John Christopher Smith (Johann Christoph Schmidt, 1712–1795), Charles Dibdin (1745–1814), Thomas Linley Junior (1756–1778), Carl Otto Ehrenfried Nicolai (1810–1849), Charles Louis Ambrose Thomas (1811–1896), Bedich Smetana (1824–1884), Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924), Sir Edward William Elgar (1857–1934), Sir Edward German (1862–1936), Gustavus Theodore Von Holst (1874–1934), Roger Quilter (1877–1953), Ralph Vaughan Williams, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895–1968), Frank Martin (1890–1974), Peter Warlock/Philip Arnoldne (1894–1930), Gerald Raphael Finzi (1901–1956), Sir William Turner Walton (1902–1983), Edward Benjamin Britten (1913–1976), and others.

The Shakespeare industry is widely spread in fine arts. The sequence of illustrations to Shakespeare’s plays, his portraits and the pictures of his characters is endless. The whole mankind has Shakespeare’s images in their eye at all times. These images began with the only lifetime illustration of the dramatist’s play Titus Andronicus, made by Henry Peacham (1576–1643), which came to us thanks to Longleat Manuscript from the Marquis of Bath’s library, continuing to a major project named Animated Shakespeare, performed by Russian State Animation Studio, under the direction of Leon Garfield (1921–1996).

Among the playwright’s portraits that spread after his death, only two have been proved to be authentic. The first one is the engraving by Martin Droeshout of the First Folio frontispiece, and the second one is the bust of the dramatist, done by Gheerart Jansen (1600–1623), which was installed into a niche of the Holy Trinity church, Stratford-upon-Avon. The year 1623 is considered to be the year of their appearance. Other portraits were performed posthumously and may have been either portraits of people unknown to us, or counterfeit Shakespeare portrait which appeared due to extremely great demand for Shakespeare’s authentic portraits. The very existence of such a number of fake Shakespeare’s portraits on the pages of different books foreshadowed the appearance of the Shakespeare industry. These portraits are the Chandos portrait, the Chesterfield portrait (probably made by Dutch artist Pieter Borseler in 1660–1670), the Flower portrait, the Grafton portrait (1588), the Kesselstadt death mask (1616), the Soest portrait (made by Gerard Soest (1600–1681) who lived in London since 1656); also there is Shakespeare’s statue in Westminster Abbey, by Flemish sculptor Peter Scheemakers (1691–1781), funded by citizen contributions in 1740, and the monument erected in 1888 by sculptor Lord Ronald Gower (1845–1916).

Since the 18th century Shakespeare’s characters and plots have played an increasingly important role in West European and especially British art. Illustrations to Shakespeare were made by many artists at different times. Among them we can find William Hogarth (1697–1764), Francis Hayman (1708–1776), Henry Fuseli (German-born: Johann Heinrich Füssli, 1741–1825), William Blake (1757–1827), and many others.

Among Russian artists who developed themes and images of Shakespeare we can name M.A. Vrubel (1856–1910). In his works Shakespeare’s characters are painted in the Renaissance style.

The famous engraving View of London’s the Bank Side by the Czech artist from Prague, Wenceslas (Wenzel) Hollar Bohemus (Václav Hollar, 1607–1677), can be easily considered a specific icon of the Shakespeare industry. This engraving was made in Antwerp in 1647, from sketches made by Hollar in London during years 1636–1642. The peculiar thing about this engraving consists not only in its thoroughness; the Globe theater depicted there is also of great importance (though the inscriptions for the theater and the bear-fighting grounds were mixed up).

Caricatures of Shakespeare may be considered both as a reverse side of the Shakespeare cult as well as a branch of the Shakespeare industry. We should pay special attention to the works of English satire writer Henry Maximilian Beerbohm (1872–1956) which concern the debate about Shakespeare’s authorship.

In recent last years the army of Shakespeare industrials has been reinforced by various recruits: graphic and stage designers, costumers and lighting technicians who cooperate with theaters and take part in stage designs of Shakespeare’s plays in Stratford or Ontario. Of course, it happened due to constantly growing interest to Shakespeare’s plays staged in theatres and on TV. The very fact that Shakespeare’s theatrical festivals run all over the world every year proves the public’s unceasing interest in the dramatist’s work, which keeps up the Shakespeare industry and serves a catalyst of economic growth in the cultural life of all English-speaking countries. New mass media technologies, especially in the field of the Internet, seem to add new features to the Shakespeare industry. Nowadays there are reliable electronic versions of Shakespeare’s texts both in English (The Complete Works of William Shakespeare; Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet; Shakespeare Online; Internet Public Library: Shakespeare Bookshelf; Shakespeare Oxford Society; the Shakespeare Resource Center) and in Russian (Information and Research Database Russian Shakespeare, William Shakespeare. The Sonnets). Such a way of presenting information makes text-oriented operations much easier and also makes those resources available for a wide scope of the Global Network users. Moreover, in recent years there have appeared special software applications, which can help in text analysis of the dramatist’s works. For example, the application software William Shakespeare in Quarto was specially developed for the British Library’s web site, to enable comparative study of different versions of Shakespeare’s publications. The possibilities of electronic texts are greater than those of hard copies. Lots of other advances are to be implemented in future, especially after the adoption of the copyright protection statute, when intellectual property is legally guarded.

Electronic encyclopedias are of great interest. They provide a very convenient and most desired information source for the new generation of scholars and students. Such encyclopedias include graphic images (e.g., engravings, lifetime documents from parish registers, illustrations, photos, etc.), audio and video files, which — though they cannot represent Shakespeare’s epoch — can help the reader get closer to its understanding. Encyclopedia Britannica can serve a good example. Though today its resource on Shakespeare is far from complete, it provides a reliable resource discussing Shakespeare’s heritage.

The above-mentioned electronic resources can further promote Shakespeare’s creative work and are prerequisites for serious research work.

N. V. Zakharov,
B. N. Gaydin

Translation form Russian by Olga Sarycheva