After taking her children to visit Shakespeare’s house, E. Nesbit – one of the greatest of children’s novelists – was faced with a conundrum:
“I can’t understand a word of it,” said Iris.
“And you said it was so beautiful,” Rosamund added, reproachfully. “What does it all mean?”
“Yes,” Iris went on, “you said it was a fairy tale, and we’ve read three pages, and there’s nothing about fairies, not even a dwarf, or a fairy god mother.”
“And what does ‘misgraffed’ mean?”
“and ‘vantage,’ and ‘austerity,’ and ‘belike,’ and ‘edict,’ and—“
“stop, stop,” I cried; I will tell you the story.”
And she did, eventually publishing her retellings of 20 of Shakespeare’s plays, of which we have included ten.
We have selected for each play images from such great illustrators as Walter Crane, Charles Folkard, Lewis Rhead, Charles Robinson W. Heath Robinson, and Hugh Thomson and, of course, Arthur Rackham.
Though less well known than Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, E. Nesbit’s retellings of these plays are concise and straightforward, yet retain the magic of the Bard’s language. The Green Tiger’s Illustrated Shakespeare will make a delightful introduction to this essential body of literature.
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