Timelines – helping your students see each work in context

To understand a play written 400 years ago, it can be extremely helpful to know the context. How did political events at Shakespeare’s time connect with what was writing? What were the original historical events portrayed in a given play? What were the legends, histories, and plays and poems that Shakespeare could have drawn from?

The timeline included in each play’s bricolage introduction presents this information succinctly. There is not one standard template for the timelines – each tells the story that is most significant to that work.

For example…

The timeline for Othello explains 16th-century British slave-trading, and events such as the opening of the first Moroccan embassy in London.

The timeline for Twelfth Night shows how flip-flop changes in religious politics would have affected the opportunity for the play to be performed at court.

The timeline for Antony and Cleopatra sets out both the original events, and the 16th century sources Shakespeare would have been aware of.

The timelines for The Taming of the Shrew traces important performances, right up to film versions in the 20th century.