Shakespeare’s words: then and now.


2016 is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, and there will be a bonanza of books published during the year to celebrate his life and works. I plan to do my bit too.

Many people who don’t think they like Shakespeare, and have never been to any of his plays, are influenced by him none the less. In fact, so many of the phrases he uses have become part of our language, that one lady who went to one of his plays for the first time reportedly came out feeling quite dismissive of his ability as a dramatist. He had, she complained, used ‘cliché after cliché.’ She didn’t realise that he had been the first to coin, or popularise, the phrases she’d heard spoken by the actors.

Some of his phrases still in common use (or at least common understanding) include:

Bated breath – Merchant of Venice

Be all and end all – Macbeth

Brave new world – Tempest

Break the ice – Taming of the Shrew

As luck would have it – Merry Wives of Windsor

Dead as a doornail – Henry VI, part two

Foregone conclusion – Othello

My own contribution to celebrating his work is a series of short stories based on some of his female characters. In these, I speculate on what they were up to either before or after they appeared on stage. One story – Chains of Magic – is about a Desdemona who – far from being an innocent young woman tricked, or worse, into running away with Othello, actually falls for him big time and dreams of how she can seduce and marry him, and get away from her boring old dad.

Chains of Magic is an Amazon best seller and is available as an e-book short story from

Chains of magic



One thought on “Shakespeare’s words: then and now.

  1. Pingback: Shakespeare’s words: then and now. | writingandbreathing

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