Shakespeare: The man
William Shakespeare is one of the most famous figures in British history. His 37 plays and 154 sonnets have been translated into over 100 languages, and he is widely credited with bringing hundreds of words, such as “assassination” and “swagger”, into everyday use. Although we know little about Shakespeare’s private life, momentous historical events of his time, including the reign of Elizabeth I; the unification of the English and Scottish crowns, and the Gunpowder Plot, clearly influenced his work.
Landmark award for blood-soaked Tudor saga
Hilary Mantel is the first Brit and the first woman to win the Booker Prize twice. But is it the extraordinary characters at the court of King Henry VIII that make her books so popular?
Japanese bank says first Brexit was in 1534
They say Brexit is a step in the dark. But Nomura, a major Japanese bank, claims we have seen it all before 400 years ago. Henry VIII would have recognised the parallels and the dangers.
Tudor fashions contrast with ‘modern drab’
Tudor fashion is all the rage in London, with two new exhibitions showcasing the dress sense of renaissance England. How did modern clothes become so dull?
Plays such as Henry V and Richard III showed Shakespeare’s interest in the historical detail of previous monarchs’ reigns. Shakespeare’s work relied heavily on the patronage of both Elizabeth and James, who are known to have enjoyed his plays. But does the monarchy still have such significance today?
Queen on the eve of longest ever reign
This week, Queen Elizabeth II was voted Britain’s greatest monarch, and tomorrow she will also claim the title of its longest reigning ruler. What has she achieved in those 63 years?
‘Prince Charles could be the last King’
Can the monarchy survive without the Queen? Tomorrow Commonwealth heads are likely to confirm Prince Charles as their new leader when the Queen dies — despite his rapidly waning popularity.
Royal baby fever grips planet Earth (again)
How much should we care about a future minor royal? After months of speculation, yesterday the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Harry and Meghan to most) announced that they are having a baby.
When James (already king of Scotland since 1567) succeeded Elizabeth to the English throne in 1603, he brought together the crowns of England and Scotland. This was a first step towards the countries entering into a full political union in 1707. In 1606 (early in James’s reign), Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, a play which showed a strong knowledge of the political character and geography of Scotland. Who are the British people and how strong is their national identity today?
Britons are still Angles, Saxons and Celts
A genetic study has found that British people still live in the same tribal kingdoms they did 1400 years ago. Is Britain merely a mixture of distinct regions, or is it one complete country?
Not victorious... but happy and glorious
Can the warm glow last? England may have crashed out of the World Cup, but Gareth Southgate’s young lions have sparked a new-found patriotism that is surging across the nation.
Less than half of young people proud of England
Should you be proud of your country? A major survey has revealed a sharp fall in patriotism among the young. One in 10 said they were “embarrassed” to be English. Is national pride so bad?
The bard was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, but moved to London to put on his plays. In 1598, he and his company financed the building of the first Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank. The building which now stands in its place is a testament to his relationship with the capital. How much has the city which lured him changed?
World looks to London as the Games begin
Tonight, the Olympics will kick off with a much-anticipated Opening Ceremony. London 2012 is the product of billions of pounds and years of graft – but is it true to the Olympic spirit?
London celebrates 150 years of the Tube
On January 9th 1863, the London Underground opened for the first time. An ambitious venture in engineering and social vision, the Tube is now a central part of life in the British capital.
Canadian Bank boss drawn to London’s ‘new Rome’
All roads in the ancient world led to Rome. Now the ambitious beat a path to the UK capital, as this week’s top appointment shows. Who are the winners and losers?
Shakespeare’s work has shown remarkable endurance. He was named the fifth greatest Briton of all time in a BBC poll in 2002, while this year’s anniversary of his death will be marked with an array of events in Stratford-upon-Avon, London and around the world. Why do we treat him with unique reverence?
Shakespeare’s history plays revived for a TV age
Four brand new adaptations of Shakespeare’s history plays have been launched on the BBC. They tell stories of power, politics and identity — but should the plays really be called history?
Happy 450th birthday, William Shakespeare
Today many regard him as the greatest writer in English and the world’s finest dramatist, but he hasn’t always been so adored. Has our present adulation blinded us to other great writers?
Shakespeare exposed by plagiarism detector
Is the world's greatest writer a cheat? Software normally used to outwit exam fraud has disclosed an obscure manuscript that was the source of many of the Bard's most famous lines.