Shakespeare Poetry Day

Thursday 23 October 2014
10AM to 5PM
Drama Studio, Faculty of English
Full Programme



Dr Gavin Alexander leads a group of lecturers from the Faculty of English who will read aloud Shakespeare’s complete poetry to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth. Shakespeare’s plays are performed every day throughout the world. His poems are read everywhere too; but usually in silence. We aim to bring Shakespeare's non-dramatic verse to audible life in a day of readings of all of his poems and songs, performed in the Drama Studio of the Faculty of English, and broadcast live online. Using our knowledge as scholars and interpreters of English Renaissance literature, and working in collaboration with visual artists and theatre practitioners, we have developed different modes of performance for each work (using images, spatial arrangement, and lighting), in order to help listeners attend to the thought, emotions, and meanings of Shakespeare's extraordinary poetry. His verse spans every mood and shade of love in the Sonnets, comedy in Venus and Adonis, tragedy in Lucrece, and the joyous, poignant, lyrical beauty of the songs. We expect to learn a great deal about Shakespeare the poet in the course of this celebration, and we hope that you will be able to join us for some or all of it.

You can come and go throughout the day. At certain times, in order to minimise disruption, admission to the studio will be temporarily limited, and you will be able instead to see a live video relay in one of our lecture rooms. You can also tune in online at any time.


The proper editing of Shakespeare has long been a concern of scholarship, and Cambridge has always been at the cutting edge. We will showcase editions produced by scholars working in the Faculty or trained in the Faculty:

  • Venus and Adonis – Raphael Lyne (Longman, forthcoming)
  • Lucrece – Colin Burrow (Oxford)
  • Sonnets – Cathy Shrank (Longman, forthcoming)
  • A Lover's Complaint – John Kerrigan (Penguin)
  • The Phoenix and Turtle – Colin Burrow (Oxford)

For those wanting access to freely available online texts (which may differ in minor as well as, occasionally, in significant details), the majority can be found at any of the following: