When we teach Shakespeare, we cannot avoid teaching history – the socio, political, economic, cultural landscape of Shakespeare’s time, and of the ages since the play was first printed.
So for each play we include a box of useful information you can access very quickly. The box always supplies information about the text and its date of composition, and it usually identifies the work’s most importance sources.
But each box is individualized, depending on what is most interesting or controversial about that work. For example Henry IV, Part 1 also gives information on the political context, the culture of the time (taverns, and food), and distinctive features of the text. Antony and Cleopatra discusses the play’s theatre history, and Cleopatra’s role. As You Like It highlights the music. And Hamlet notes the genre of Revenge Tragedies.
Gary Taylor, General Editor