A Shakespearean Visual Encyclopedia


Handbook with over 800 objects referenced in Shakespeare’s plays. Will include a drawing and written explanation for each entry.

Thank you so much to all my kickstarter backers!

The language of Shakespeare is beautiful, visual, culturally important, and complete gibberish to almost anyone who hasn’t had the time and inclination to spend years studying it.

It doesn’t need to be that way!

Understanding a Shakespearean text can be an exercise in a kind of literary leap-frog. We leap from one familiar word to the next, and try to make sense of what is in between, based on the context and the person speaking.

Some of these words – indeed most of them – have multiple meanings. It is easy to get overwhelmed by linguistics and metaphor. However many of the words describe common household objects from Shakespeare’s time. Being able to picture those objects, and understanding how they were used, makes understanding Shakespeare much easier.

There are many dictionaries which explain, with no images, what these objects are but without a picture it’s much harder to remember. If you come across the word “arras” in Hamlet you may not know what it means. All you know is that Polonius stood behind one and that they aren’t helpful in preventing stab wounds. But if you learn that an arras is a kind of  curtain, and then you see an image of one, then the whole scene makes a lot more sense. Not only have you learned a new word, but you understand the setting better, and it all becomes more memorable in your mind.

A Shakespearean Visual Encyclopedia will contain 800+ entries with a simple line drawing illustrating the object and a brief description that explains how the object was used, what it was made of, and any other information pertinent to the object and the text.

The scope of the encyclopedia will be limited to material objects named specifically in the texts. It will not include people or places.  Although a pictorial biographical encyclopedia, and an illustrated atlas, are possible future projects.

The written descriptions will be concise. The images will be simple sketches. All entries will be listed alphabetically with the assumption that the user has come across an unfamiliar word in the texts and needs to look it up quickly. The goal is to make a lightweight handbook that can easily be carried to class or rehearsal.

You can see sketches and get up dates at the FB page here.