Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Yale Displays Shakespeare's Will

A current exhibit "Searching for Shakespeare," at the Yale Center for British Art includes a most interesting document: Shakespeare's will, which has never before left England (the exhibit also includes the six portraits ostensibly of the Bard, original period theatrical costumes, and early editions of Shakespeare's plays).

Will's will is the subject of a profile in the July/August Yale alumni magazine, available online here. The document, "dated March 25, 1616, less than a month before Shakespeare's death, is a rich trove of information - and of questions. One provision alone, Shakespeare's bequest to his wife of his 'second best bed,' has generated reams of scholarly and not-so-scholarly speculation."

The piece interviews three Shakespeare experts on the relevance and importance of the will: Harold Bloom, Lawrence Manley, and Lena Cowen Orlin. All have interesting comments on some parts of the will, including that rather odd "second best bed" provision.

(h/t to Jack Kessler via Ex-Libris, who notes that the photos in the magazine are quite nice, as is the original document).