About this display
How many languages can Shakespeare speak?
In the First Folio, the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, Ben Jonson describes Shakespeare’s school education of ‘small Latin and less Greek’. Henry V includes a scene in French, and Shakespeare also used Italian sources. During Shakespeare’s lifetime, the English language grew exponentially by adopting words from other languages.
From this starting point, Shakespeare has now come to speak in many tongues. A book printed in London four centuries ago has had an extraordinary global afterlife, translated into more than 100 languages.
In this display, celebrating 400 years since the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio, the First Folio is displayed alongside other language versions of texts by The Bard, including Bengali, Tagalog, Swahili and even Klingon. Thou Art Translated highlights the exceptional breadth and depth of Shakespeare’s legacy.
Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Hertford College.