The Taming of the Shrew: Text in Context

Shrew012This is a home page for a course “The Taming of the Shrew: Text in Context.”

Since the latter part of the 20th century, The Taming of the Shrew has been viewed as one of Shakespeare’s most problematical comedies. This course addresses the interpretive problems by focusing on the play’s context in three different senses: 1) possible sources and analogues of the different stories that Shakespeare combined into his play; 2) late medieval and Renaissance ideas about women and the relations between the sexes, as reflected in treatises and in John Fletcher’s The Woman’s Prize, or The Tamer Tamed; and 3) performance practice over the years on stage and on film.

Textual Material

Original spelling edition of the First Folio text of The Taming of the Shrew
Edited by Michael Best for Internet Shakespeare Editions, Inc., affiliated with the University of Victoria, Canada. “The Internet Shakespeare Editions offer old spelling, draft texts of the Folio of The Taming of the Shrew. The text may be viewed in three formats:

  1. Divided into acts and scenes, following modern editions
  2. Divided into pages as the play first appeared in the Folio of 1623
  3. As a single long file (218K).

The Taming of the Shrew was first printed in the Folio of 1623, in a text that is the basis of all modern editions. The transcripts presented here follow the Folio as exactly as an electronic version permits; spelling follows the original, with no attempt to correct errors; word spacing is normalized; and modern forms are substituted for letters and ligatures that have no modern equivalent in current browsers (for example, the long ‘s’).”

A Pleasant Conceited Historie, Called The Taming of a Shrew 

Published in 1594, about the same time as Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, this is almost certainly a pirated version of Shakespeare’s play, made with the help of one of the players in his troupe (a “memorial” version), though some scholars have argued that it is a source of Shakespeare’s play (unlikely based on textual evidence), and others claim it is a separate version of the story based on the same source that Shakespeare used. This text is made available through the Huntington Library.  Use the magnify function for each page to read the text easily. For a plot summary by Dr. Michael Delahoyde, of Washington State University, click here.

The Quarto of The Taming of a Shrew

From the British Library’s web site, “Treasures in Full: Shakespeare in Quarto,” this page gives pictures of and information about the 1594 quarto edition of The Taming of a Shrew, as well as background information on the evidence for the earliest performances of this play and of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

Gascoigne’s The Supposes

If The Taming of a Shrew is a version rather than a source of The Taming of the Shrew, then Shakespeare’s direct source for the Bianca/Lucentio subplot was probably George Gascoigne’s translation of Lodovico Ariosto’s comedy, I Suppositi, and the first English prose stage comedy. For a biography of Gascoigne, click here.

Commedia dell’arte: One of the inspirations for The Taming of the Shrew was this Italian comedic form.

The Taming of The Shrew in Performance

Shakespeare and the Players: The Taming of the Shrew – An illustrated history of the actors who have portrayed characters in Shrew from 1890 to 1914, by Prof. Harry Rusche of Emory University.

Paintings of Scenes from The Taming of the Shrew – From the web site Shakespeare Illustrated, by Prof. Harry Rusche of Emory University.

Production Photographs, 1922-1981 – Selections from the web site “The Cleveland Press Shakespeare Photographs, 1870-1982.” These are photos of stage productions of The Taming of the Shrew and Kiss Me, Kate.

The Taming of the Shrew in Performance – The Royal Shakespeare Company’s page devoted to The Taming of the Shrew, including descriptions, with pictures, of productions since 1961.

“A Shrew for All Seasons” – Two reviews of Romanian director Andrei Serban’s 1998 production of The Taming of the Shrew for the American Repertory Theatre: click here and here.

The York Shakespeare Project Taming of the Shrew – A review and information about the 2003 production. For another review, click here.

The Taming of The Shrew Bibliographies

The Taming of The Shrew in Performance

Shakespeare and the Players: The Taming of the Shrew – An illustrated history of the actors who have portrayed characters in Shrew from 1890 to 1914, by Prof. Harry Rusche of Emory University.

Paintings of Scenes from The Taming of the Shrew – From the web site Shakespeare Illustrated, by Prof. Harry Rusche of Emory University.

Production Photographs, 1922-1981 – Selections from the web site “The Cleveland Press Shakespeare Photographs, 1870-1982.” These are photos of stage productions of The Taming of the Shrew and Kiss Me, Kate.

The Taming of the Shrew in Performance – Descriptions, with pictures, of seven of the ten productions of The Taming of the Shrew by the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1961.

“A Shrew for All Seasons” – A short interview with Romanian director Andrei Serban about his 1998 production of The Taming of the Shrew for the American Repertory Theatre. For reviews of that production, click here and here

Excerpts from London reviews of the 2004 Royal Shakespeare productions of The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed

The York Shakespeare Project Taming of the Shrew – A review and the cast of a 2003 production. For another review, click here.

General Bibliography for Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and Fletcher’s A Woman’s Prize or The Tamer Tamed (click here)