New Shakespeare statue unveiled in the Bard’s historic home town of Stratford-upon-Avon

A new life size statue of William Shakespeare was unveiled in Stratford-upon-Avon on 23 February as part of the town’s celebrations commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Young Will
Situated in Bancroft Gardens, the statue entitled ‘Young Will’ has been gifted by sculptor Lawrence Holofcener, who travelled from the USA to present the town with the sculpture on his 90th birthday.

Young Will close up
The multi-talented Mr Holofcener, who in previous careers was a successful Broadway actor, songwriter, and playwright, dedicated the sculpture to the actors, tourists and townspeople of Stratford with a personalised poem.

Unveiling the statue
The statue portrays a young William Shakespeare with one leg raised on a bench, holding a scroll of parchment.

Mr Holofcener revealed during the ceremony that the scroll that young Will is holding is not a play but the lines for one actor, a technique that Elizabethan actors were accustomed to.

Lawrence Holofcener stands with Young Will
Stratford district council hopes ‘Young Will’ will prove a popular spot in the town –  it’s certainly the perfect place for a Shakespeare selfie.

Go here for more on Lawrence Holofcener.

Go here for more on Stratford-upon-Avon’s 2016 Shakespeare Celebrations.

West Midlands artist Geoff Tristram has painted this amazingly life-like portrait of William Shakespeare to commemorate 400 years since the Bard’s death

Shakespeare scan low res
Stourbridge-based artist and novelist Geoff Tristram has been commissioned by Stratford-upon-Avon Council to create a brand new oil painting of Shakespeare to mark the 400th Anniversary of the Bard’s death.

The resulting portrait is a photo-realistic treat for Shakespeare fans. Taking elements of the First Folio’s Droeshout engraving and the Shakespeare effigy in Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church, it presents a version of Shakespeare in prosperous middle-age. Quill in hand, he looks reflective, wise and instantly recognisable.

“I wanted you to believe he was a real bloke,” Geoff says, “not an old, badly-drawn etching!”

Large prints of Geoff’s Shakespeare portrait will be available – signed and numbered in a limited edition of 400 – priced £195 plus postage & packing.

For further details, contact the artist via email: gt@geofftristram.co.uk

We love the richly symbolic new 2016 Shakespeare coins from the Royal Mint – but are they actually committing an act of treason against the Queen?

Shakespeare fans who are also numismatists are giddy with glee at the 2016 William Shakespeare £2 coins issued by the Royal Mint.

The three coins celebrate Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies.
coins full set
The ‘Comedies’ coin is conventional enough, depicting a Shakespearean jester or Fool.
coins comedies
But the ‘Histories’ coin has rather more powerful imagery. It depicts Shakespeare’s “Hollow Crown” pierced by a short sword or dagger.
coins histories
As the coin’s other side features our present Queen, sharp-eyed commentators have wondered if this could be interpreted as being disrespectful – potentially even treasonous – towards the monarch?

My interpretation is that the Hollow Crown symbol accurately represents the overriding theme of Shakespeare’s Histories – the legitimacy of rulers and the fate of those who usurp the throne.

So, when we turn over the ‘Histories’ coin we find Queen Elizabeth II. The crown is no longer hollow – it’s worn by the longest-reigning monarch in English history, and the namesake of Shakespeare’s Queen (Elizabeth I) as well.

If possible, the ‘Tragedies’ coin is even more striking – disturbing, even. It features a very gothic-looking Skull-and-Rose motif.
coins tragedies
I’m intrigued to know if this is the first time a skull has appeared on a British coin?

The message of this coin is clear: it’s about death. And when we flip the coin over, we once again find the Queen’s head, and the inescapable thought that one day her reign will come to an end.

Reinforcing this notion, we’ve noticed that if you place the upper half of the ‘Histories’ coin upon the lower half of the ‘Tragedies’ coin, what results is a very sinister image of a skull apparently wearing a crown.
coins skull and crown
In Shakespeare’s time it was considered treason to speculate about the death of the monarch – and we all know what the penalty was for treason.

But I think what the ‘Tragedies’ coin is saying is that, like Shakespeare himself, Queen Elizabeth II will live on – in artefacts like the coin itself, and in the memories of those who lived through her reign.

To quote the famous couplet from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18:

“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

You can order the Shakespeare Coins direct from the Royal Mint.