Hamlet (Character)

Hamlet is the main character in the tragedy, Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. Some of the famous players in this role include Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson, E.H. Sothern, Sir Henry Irving, Sir Martin Harvey, and Sarah Bernhardt. The Shakespeare Blog recounts this anecdote from actress Elizabeth Robins about one of Bernhardt’s performances: “Madame Bernhardt’s assumption of masculinity is so cleverly carried out that one loses sight of Hamlet in one’s admiration for the tour de force of the actress… She gives us…aRead more

Hamlet, The Prince of Denmark

What is this quintessence of dust? (2.2) Events before the start of Hamlet set the stage for tragedy. When the king of Denmark, Prince Hamlet‘s father, suddenly dies, Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, marries his uncle Claudius, who becomes the new king. A spirit who claims to be the ghost of Hamlet’s father describes his murder at the hands of Claudius and demands that Hamlet avenge the killing. When the councilor Polonius learns from his daughter, Ophelia, that Hamlet has visited herRead more


SOUND RECORDINGS The following are a selection of audio recordings featuring actors from Shakespeare & the Players. Many of these were recorded on gramophones.  Ben Greet. Hamlet (1912), Act 3, Scene 2. (Source: Library of Congress) Ben Greet. Macbeth (1912), Act 2, Scene 1. (Source: Library of Congress) Ben Greet. Much Ado About Nothing (1912), Act 2, Scene 3. (Source: Library of Congress) Ben Greet. As You Like It (1912), Act 2, Scene 1. (Source: Library of Congress) Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree.Read more

Julia Neilson

(1868-1957) Born in London, Julia Neilson spent her early years studying in Germany before enrolling in the Royal Academy of Music and earning prize after prize for her singing abilities. On March 21, 1888, she made her first stage appearance at the Lyceum Theatre in W.S. Gilbert’s Pygmalion and Galatea in the role of Cynisca. A few months later, she moved up to the lead role of Galatea opposite Lewis Waller. Soon, she began performing and touring with Beerbohm Tree,Read more

The Plays

These are listed in alphabetical order, generally categorized according to the First Folio (1623). There are, however, four authoritative folios of Shakespeare’s work, each with intriguing histories and contents. Select a play to view the related postcards, players, and performance history. * Indicates plays not included in the First Folio, but first published in one of the others. ** Indicates plays not included in any of the four Folios. *** Indicates plays included in the First Folio, but not listedRead more

The Players

WHO ARE THE PLAYERS? It might be impossible to count all of the actors in all of the productions of Shakespeare’s nearly forty plays over the past few centuries. Our extensive collection of postcards features nearly two hundred actors (“players”) and actor-managers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who appeared in productions Shakespeare’s plays. Some names you may recognize, and some may be new to you. The collection features iconic persons such as Sir Henry Irving and Dame EllenRead more

The Plays

400 years after his death, it’s no secret that Shakespeare continues to be the most popular dramatist in Western literary history. His plays have been performed over and over again across the world, for centuries. The performance of Othello that Abigail Adams viewed with disdain in 1785 wasn’t the same Othello you saw last week, or the one you read in high school. Every performance brings a new set of directors, producers, designers, audiences, and, of course, players to a fresh interpretation of theRead more

The Characters

Hamlet. Juliet. Othello. Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare created some of the most enduring characters in literary history. Some of the characters such as Cleopatra, Caesar, Richard III, and Henry VIII are famous historical figures in their own right. In our collection, we offer a selection of some of the characters immortalized by once-famous actors in vivid postcards from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. In our bibliography, we’ve included a list of the most used and studied Shakespeare editions – i.e.Read more

Viola Tree

(1884-1938) Viola, somewhat of a polymath, was born in London in 1884. She was eldest daughter of Maude and Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. She got her start early by performing at her father’s company at Her Majesty’s Theatre, and in 1904, she debuted, successfully, as Viola in Twelfth Night. Over the next several years, she appeared in Much Ado About Nothing as Hero, The Tempest as Ariel, Richard II as the Queen, The Merry Wives of Windsor as Anne Page,Read more

Allan Wilkie

(1878-1970) Wilkie made his stage debut in 1899 and almost immediately began touring with three of the great Shakespeare companies, those of Rawson Buckley, Ben Greet and Frank Benson. After his experience with these companies and the numerous parts he played in Shakespeare he formed his own company and toured England, India, and Australia. In 1920 after his company’s successful runs in Melbourne and Sydney, he took his troupe over much of Asia. In all, he staged twenty-seven of Shakespeare’sRead more