Shakespeare and the Visual Imagination: Shakespeare in Painting, Illustration and Comics

Ronan Paterson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


As Shakespeare gradually became a playwright whose works were being read as well as seen, publishers, beginning with an edition in 1709, began illustrating editions of his plays. At first these were only frontispieces, giving a flavour of the a climactic moment in the play, but soon these illustrations expanded in number, until editions were often lavishly illustrated.

At first the illustrations tended to be representations of the plays in performance,with famous actors shown in the roles of the protagonists, but increasingly the illustrations took on a different tenor. By the late 19th Century beautiful gift editions, illustrated with both line drawings and coloured plates of paintings were some of the most desirable products of the so called Golden Age of Illustration.

Alongside this ran cheaper and more populist versions, be they 17th Century quartos, or by the 20th Century in the form of Comics. In this form they were soon imitated by the traditions in other countries, such as India and particularly Japan, where Shakespeare was soon subsumed into the Manga style.

This presentation explores these different approaches to the visualisation of Shakespeare's plays and characters, tracing styles and developments in the creation of renditions which were aimed at ordinary households, who wanted to own a piece of Shakespeare.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2019
Event2019 International Conference and Workshops on World Literature - Indian council of Cultural relations, Kolkata, India
Duration: 9 Oct 201911 Oct 2019


Conference2019 International Conference and Workshops on World Literature


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