Mediations, entrapment, counterrevolutions: Hytner’s Hamlet (and Ophelia’s drowning) revisited

With a focus on the acute decline in the quality of social life that accompanies the model of socioeconomic development and associated urbanisation that ‘the West’ has exported to ‘the Rest’, this endpiece returns to notions of mediations (looking once again at Hamlet as currently mediated) that might deepen our understanding of its/our times, and to notions of entrapment and counterrevolution, and to the possibility of moving beyond such obstructions.

‘As urban tragedies continue, as part of a long historical process, to play out across our world, is it possible that the arts could help us to see and feel what is at stake, and even the need for action?’ (1)

The commitment that lies behind this series of ‘Thoughts on urban studies and the present crisis’ was made in 2001 as a response to 9/11. That event, the destructive incursion into US space, and the unfolding events that revealed its impact on Western consciousness, particularly as defined by powerful elites, was taken as at least symptomatic of ‘the present crisis’. That destructive incursion defined a specific ‘coming together’ of ‘the West and the Rest’. If the capture and death of Osama bin Laden and the events and developments of ‘the Arab spring’ lead to any changes in the definition of that coming together, what remains a constant is the crisis of ‘the West’ which has been the principal feature of this series.

The question directed at the arts in the epigraph also refers crucially to urban studies itself/themselves. Could it/they, ‘as urban tragedies continue to play out across the world’, come together so as to ‘help us to see and feel what is at stake, and even the need for action?’ Could/should they come together and, if so, might such studies exemplify a deeper understanding of science, one that has room for the witness of ‘the arts’, for different kinds of writing, including polemic, in addition to the academically respectable scholastic sublime, and the everyday observations (‘bringing people (back?) in’ of colleagues, friends and casual contacts. Might such an approach be what we need in order to help us see what is at stake and not only the need for action but also the need for responsible action? What was/is required is a commitment to, at the least, exploring these questions, in seeking to lay a basis for such a science and for responsible action.

This is not the occasion – that occasion is to come more closely to ‘ten years after’ (2) – to summarise the course and conclusions of this series of accumulating and cumulative investigations but it is one on which it is appropriate to recover some earlier conceptual elements of the series and to relate them to recent ones. Two concepts that were introduced early in the series were the notions of entrapment and mediation; a recent one has been that of counterrevolution. These two conceptualizing moments lie here behind a close reading of Hamlet, for reasons given below, in the light of the founding questions, related investigations, and an emerging set of concepts. The third concept, that of counterrevolution, has proved useful as a tool for understanding the complexities and contradiction arising in a number of texts and performances. Here, in association with the other concepts, it is applied to the production and reception of Hamlet in Britain’s National Theatre and in the stance of its director as they merge into and seek to emerge from a context of financial/economic/social crisis and of a precipitate rush – perhaps not unlike ‘the Western’ response to 9/11 – into massive cuts in state expenditure applied to the funding of the social welfare system and of education and the arts at the same time as the simultaneous celebration of the supposedly inevitable restorative potential of the private sector and of the as yet unborn, possibly never to be born(e), ‘Big Society’. In a new lead‐in, of which the first sentence appears above as an epigraph, to a republication on our website of my response to the production of Hamlet in the previous episode of this series, I concluded by referring to the National Theatre’s ‘apparent discovery of a hitherto unknown version by Agatha Christie and J.M. Barrie [that] presents us with a hero who is a goof and a tragedy that, far from illuminating our times, is a dead duck’. The duck dies in The Wire, a major focus of recent work in the journal, as a result of the alcohol fed to it in a bar, the latest bid for attention of Ziggy Sabotka, ‘the Prince of Goofs’. Could it be that the National Theatre’s Hamlet was in effect presenting a re‐enactment of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan and The Wire’s episodes featuring ‘the Prince of Goofs’?

Media and mediations: Hamlet matters

‘Inasmuch as man and nature are constituted by an unfree society, their repressed and distorted potentialities can be represented only in an estranging form … The encounter with the truth of art happens in the estranging language and images which make perceptible, visible and audible that which is no longer, or not yet, perceived, said and heard in everyday life.’ (Herbert Marcuse, 3)

The article in which I made these satirical claims (appearing in City first and then on the website with the additional lead‐in) is a polemic but it is nevertheless based on a careful reading arising from a series of investigations into ‘the urban’ (and ‘the rurban’) and the arts (particularly theatre and film), and, particularly, from a sense that Hamlet matters as a historic and crucial mediation, bearing ‘the truth of art’ to which Marcuse refers, as we face a ‘dangerous and extraordinary moment’.

Figure 1 Sir Peter Hall, urbanist (left), Mary Stuart, Deputy Vice‐Chancellor of Kingston University (centre), Sir Peter Hall, theatre director (right). Photograph: Terry Bloxham.

Figure 1 Sir Peter Hall, urbanist (left), Mary Stuart, Deputy Vice‐Chancellor of Kingston University (centre), Sir Peter Hall, theatre director (right). Photograph: Terry Bloxham.

This reference to a ‘dangerous and extraordinary moment’, explained below, is that of the theatre director, Sir Peter Hall, from his dialogue with the urbanist Sir Peter Hall, a dialogue (4) (Figure 1) mounted by City as a related investigation. It was the conventionalized deployment of Hamlet in their study of London Working Capital, (5) of which the urbanist Sir Peter Hall was one of the authors, that led me to turn, earlier in this series, to Derrida’s deeply literate, if at times barely intelligible, and socially aware treatment of Hamlet/Hamlet in his Specters of Marx, 6) and subsequently to a more detailed and extensive exploration of a wide range of Shakespearean scholarship with particular reference to Hamlet).

Is Rory Kinnear’s Hamlet, as presented in the NT production, then, a goof? He is certainly more than a goof. It is a fine performance (see, for example, from the NT’s advertising material, which we attached to the website version of the review, the video of his performance of Hamlet’s soliloquy ‘O, that this too, too solid flesh would melt…’) but it is prevented from being a great performance by the drab and shallow production within which it is imprisoned. Shakespeare’s Hamlet does of course at times play the fool, but he is in effect playing The Fool, verging on and/or escalating into madness, a notion that is far more powerful and disturbing than that of a goof.

To refer to Sir Nicholas Hytner’s production as shallow may seem implausible, particularly in the light of his recent penetrating comments on ‘the cuts’, and on the availability of a possible alternative. On the cuts he deployed his observational skills of performance to characterise ‘the adrenaline‐fuelled conviction of our political masters’ and their ‘spirit of swaggering certainty’ and then went on to note that ‘the consequences of our Government’s gung‐ho adventure will include countless blighted lives’.

“There is something I recognise in the adrenaline‐fuelled conviction of our political masters. They govern in a spirit of swaggering certainty that I value in my creative colleagues. Much of the best work in the arts comes when artists sail close to the wind, exhilarated by a new creative ideology, with no fear of the consequences of failure. Throw the pieces in the air and see where they land!

“This is just about defensible if the worst that can happen is a book that doesn’t sell, a flop show, an angry audience. But the consequences of our Government’s gung‐ho adventure will include countless blighted lives.” (7)

The socio‐economic background to this adrenaline‐fuelled, swaggering, gung‐ho adventure has been suggested in a recent article by Simon Head (8):

“What we seem to be creating is a variant on the old elite, drawing on the latter’s past strengths, divested of some of its more abrasive features and, above all, strengthened by the rise of global London. The scions of this elite attend the leading (and expensive) schools and the best universities. They are mostly children of the city not the shires. Global London has often been part of their world from the beginning, and so they are linked to the one segment of the British economy which has been spectacularly successful and has offered expanding opportunities. They are streetwise, free of the sneer of cold command, less conspicuous than their forebears, but more formidable.”

Despite this unpromising context, Hytner made a significant intervention into a debate largely stifled in ‘the media’, though not on the streets, just as there was maximum public attention to ‘the cuts’ in arts funding. In suggesting that there is an alternative, he drew on an aspect of Roosevelt’s New Deal, its music policy. He reported:

“In the current economic climate some British cultural organisations are looking to America in search of ideas for fundraising. The received opinion is that America is the great shining example of private and philanthropic sponsorship of the arts.”

But, he noted that ‘that was not always the case – there was one brief period, a radical blossoming of government subsidy, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated centralised arts funding from scratch’. This had been then and is now, Hytner implied, ‘a Public Right and Obligation’ (9) to and for such funding.

Hytner’s two interventions suggest an extraordinary grip (sadly missing from almost all other commentators and from politicians) on some current British realities and possibilities. What seems to be missing from Hytner’s reading of our times, though, and there is a deep chasm here that undermines almost all publicly available thought on cultural as well socio‐economic matters, is a sense of the long‐term and global trends of which the cuts are the latest – simultaneously desperate, fanatical and savage – manifestation.


Hamlet is undoubtedly trapped, imprisoned, but what kind of entrapment is this? Hytner’s view of the society in which he re‐situates him, as he states in an interesting discussion (published in the NT programme) with Rory Kinnear, is of ‘a surveillance state, a totalitarian monarchy with a highly developed spy network …’ In a companion piece in the programme, Professor Peter Holland seems to endorse Hytner’s identification of the Elizabethan with the Stalinist system. It is essentially the spy system and associated power that is singled out as the key feature of the system, now as then. But is that the crucial characteristic of contemporary society? That was not the characteristic that director Sir Peter Hall was pointing to. When he referred to a ‘dangerous and extraordinary moment’, he referred to the dominance of electronic media: ‘We can now totally abdicate an active response and be passive, and watch, which is not in that sense a social act.’ This is not just a defence of theatre, however, as he makes clear, but part of a defence of the centrality of face‐to‐face communication and engagement to the nature of the city.

Similar thinking seems to have guided Michael Almereyda’s film, to which I referred in my earlier critique, Hamlet (2000). Almereyda takes up Hamlet’s claim that Denmark is a prison and remarks: “If you consider this in terms of contemporary culture, the bars of the stage are defined by advertising, by all the hectic distinctions, brand names, announcements and ads that crowd our waking hours.” (10) For Hall and Almereyda there is a much deeper social context than that of the deceased and distant Stalinist state, the bars of the prison liquefy, so to speak, taking the form instead of all the hectic phenomena that ‘crowd our waking hours’ and allow us ‘to abdicate an active response and be passive…’

Counterrevolutions (and revolutions)

Why, then, did Hytner commit Hamlet to what appears, in the first instance, the long‐deceased Stalinist system? It was at this point that earlier work on the notion of counterrevolution (and indeed of revolution and of ‘the long revolution’), and of a so‐to‐speak double counterrevolution, proves useful. (11)

The Stalinist system has an all too obvious spectral place in our imaginations. However, there is not much consideration given to the possibility that it was not itself ‘the revolution’ or that there were elements of a genuine popular revolution (one in which the Bolsheviks played a positive as well as a negative role).

The notion that what has been going on in Britain from Thatcher’s time is a counterrevolution is also a difficult one to consider, let alone grasp. When since the seventeenth century has there been a revolution? Raymond William’s great contribution to opening up the discussion of this and associated topics was the notion of The Long Revolution (1961) with its emphasis on the possibility that a revolution does not have to be sudden or violent. Nor is it, as it is often presented, a matter of affluence and rising living standards and expectations but it is a matter of fundamental doubts about the justice or, increasingly, the sustainability of the capitalist system, accompanied by a greater and developing sense of (limited) control over some aspects of everyday life, and of (limited again, and increasingly undermined) comradeship.

It has been difficult to see elements of popular revolution in Russia, with 1917 as a (very fragile) turning point, and in Britain and elsewhere with 1945 as the turning point. It was difficult to identify the two (to some extent, in terms of visionary and collectivist thought and action) overlapping revolutions, it was therefore difficult to identify counterrevolution. It was much simpler to identify Stalinist regimes as the major modern example of entrapment/imprisonment, iron bars are much, much more visible and clearly painful than liquefied ones.There are, then, two such counterrevolutions. One is capitalist, neoliberal, and very much alive. The other is the statist, Stalinist one, now dead but still spectral. Both, though, have undermined the generous sense of the importance of others, of camaraderie, of ideals and vision, the heroic and poetic dimension of life. This uncertainty about values tends increasingly to undermine everyday life, (12) and professional and skilled life, including socio‐economic and cultural analysis.

Both the shallow conceptualization of the production and its drab presentation and its largely uncritical reception are symptoms of something more threatening, something that Jane Jacobs identified in her grossly neglected last book, Dark Age Ahead (2004), in which she argued that the West was in a condition (not necessarily inevitable) of decline:

“History has repeatedly demonstrated that empires seldom seem to retain sufficient cultural self‐awareness to prevent them from overreaching and overgrasping. They have neglected to recognize that the true power of a successful culture resides in its example. Any culture that jettisons the values that have given it competence, adaptability and identity becomes weak and hollow.’ (Jane Jacobs, 13)

This would put Britain with North America into the context of ‘overreaching and overgrasping’ empires (it might appear that we have travelled far from Hamlet here but, as I indicate below, we have not) with a culture that has jettisoned the values that have given it competence, adaptability and identity. It is a plausible account of our condition. Jacobs believed that we might be able to restore those values and skills. Alternatively, it may be the case that we are in fact trapped in a cycle of moves that offer no way out. There are attempts by dominant elites to cut back on one part of the tottering structure and expand another in the hope that this will revive the clapped‐out edifice. The pendulum swings back and forth. Sometimes it pauses at one extreme and seeks to expand the state and cut back the market; at other times the pendulum swings to the other extreme, the market. Sometimes the pendulum seeks to pause midway, seeking to define a ‘third way’.

For some time now the pendulum has been swinging back towards the market, occasionally claiming that it has reached an ideal point of balance between market and state. In Britain, where this apparently inexorable process has taken a particularly dramatic turn, the point of balance was claimed not long ago by New Labour. Now there is an attempt to claim it for the mirage of the Big Society and associated concerns identified in the ‘new’ ideology of leading personnel in the current coalition government. John Gray, in an important article, ‘Progressive, like the 1980s’ (14), examines the attempt by leading members (Nick Clegg, David Laws, Chris Huhne and Vince Cable) of the Liberal Democratic Party, first signalled in The Orange Book (2004), to ditch its social democratic heritage. Behind this, he notes:

“The market ideology of the 1980s Conservative Party has been internalised across the British political class, so that it now seems no more than common sense. Like Cameron, Clegg has known nothing else.”

He goes on to anticipate another possible swing of the pendulum:

“Cameron and Clegg belong in a generation shaped by the ideas of the 1980s; but in forming the coalition they have demonstrated an impressive ability to break with the past. They may turn out to be the politicians who lead Britain into a new era of statism.”

Meanwhile, behind the glossy manifestoes, the pendulum is all the time swinging back towards the market, and now, with gathering force, using the failure of the market in the form of the banking/financial crisis, as a justification of ‘the cuts’, particularly of the state’s social welfare provisions (which however inadequately, provide some measure of protection to those overexposed to the privations of the market). Such measures have been described as ‘radical’, even ‘revolutionary’, but in fact they are reactive, reactionary, part of the counterrevolution of our times. Some of the best contemporary scholarship and commentary is undermined by our failure to distinguish between revolution and counterrevolution.

There have nevertheless been tremendous advances in, for example, Shakespearian scholarship. (15) One of these is Margreta de Grazia’s remarkable study, ’Hamlet’ without Hamlet (16), which counters the modern tradition (while at the same time presenting thorough readings of Marx’s ‘old mole’ and Derrida’s Specters of Marx) of abstracting the character of Hamlet from the play and brings out the full materiality of the play’s world (the then, and perhaps now, world) that cannot be reduced to the banalities of a state–market amalgam and merry‐go‐round. This is an extraordinarily rich and necessarily complex book to which it is impossible to do justice here. One pithy summing up of a key aspect of the book is in a review by Professor Julia Reinhard Lupton:

“In place of the Hamlet of the bildungsroman and the Oedipus complex, of tortured guilt and existential intellectualism, Margaret de Grazia recovers a frank and heavy Hamlet embedded in a deeply political environment defined by unfamiliar theological, iconographic and imperial coordinates.” (17)

A key chapter in de Grazia’s book is entitled ‘Empires of World History’. Hamlet is not so far, then, from Jane Jacobs’s Dark Age Ahead. Part of Peter Holland’s programme note acknowledges the presence of this theme.

Hamlet.A second major advance is that Hamlet has been established and now made easily available (in a new Arden two‐volume edition), (18) as in a sense, three plays, the products of three successive workings out, rather than the variously edited composite text most of us were brought up on. A third is the magnificent work of Kiernan Ryan who rescues the protagonists and agonists of the plays from historicisms and poststructuralisms that entrap them, respectively, in the past and present. The protagonist and agonists he argues are:

“figures born before their time, citizens of an anticipated age whose values their suffering discloses, pointing us towards more desirable storylines yet to be scripted by history.” (19)

Trapped mediations or an appropriate science?

Shakespeare presents us, then, with plays that are both reflections and interventions, mediations from the theatre that, coupled with appropriate scholarship, ‘bring people back in’ and contribute to a science of society in the making, one that goes beyond, without losing, the enthusiasm and sense of evident blockages experienced in the here and now. However, the National Theatre’s Hamlet is a trapped mediation, trapped not just within a long‐deceased but still spectral Stalinism but also within a sad amalgam of two counterrevolutions in which urbanisation and neo‐imperialist globalisation are reducing the rural to the rurban and urbanity to urbanality, and people to commodities.

Thus, Ophelia, in her ‘mad scene’ comes with ready‐wrapped flowers, and a shopping trolley from a supermarket, denuded of their rural, folk‐culture ambience. She is momentarily restored to that ambience by the new Arden’s designer (Figure 2). However, she is robbed of it again by Hytner when her delirious, semi‐enchanted death through drowning, part accident, part suicide, is replotted as total victimage, murdered by state agents, with the Queen’s poetic account of her death now reduced to the status of a cover‐up.

Such a reading is a novelty but does it do justice to the life‐long images and preoccupations that reverberate through Shakespeare’s work? Not according to A. D. Nuttall in his Shakespeare the Thinker, a fourth major publication from the first decade of the twenty‐first century, who notes:

“In December 1579 a young woman was drowned in the Avon at Tiddington, near Stratford. It seemed that she slipped in the mud on the river‐bank but some thought suicide… When we add that the woman’s name was Katherine Hamlett the association is simply inescapable.”

I cannot here go into the details of Nuttall’s account but his conclusion about the poetry of Shakespeare’s craft is highly relevant to assessing why the obstinate psychological realism of the NT production (or, for that matter, the underlying positivism of so much social analysis) cannot do justice to the full range of human life:

“The action of Hamlet is set in motion by the ghost of a dead king. The play itself is haunted, ab extra, by a dead woman. I have said that the lyric exaltation is crushed at the end by Gertrude’s speech, but the high poetry is there, before it is crushed. It remains a powerful element in the poetic economy of the whole. Shakespeare needs this lyric beauty because without it he cannot effect his final startling reduction. If we flatten the sequence so that it is, so to speak, reduced from the start, we falsify. The death of Ophelia really was beautiful before it was squalid.” (20)

Are we, to conclude, to find ourselves in a world in which ‘the spirit of swaggering certainty’ identified by Hytner triumphs or one in which music and theatre flow the hoped‐for in ‘cities for people, not for profit’?

The ending of the play offers two possible outcomes or perhaps a combination of them: either the martial rule of Fortinbras, or the humanist example of Hamlet’s loyal friend, Horatio. However, Kinnear, following Hytner, eliminates even the humanist alternative: ‘probably, after his death, Horatio will let him down.’ There is absolutely no justification (21) for the defeated, goofy cynicism of this.

‘The rest is silence’? No. Let us put beside this casual shrug (definitely part of the problem) the words of Andrea Gibbons, one of the campaigners against the cuts:

“I don’t really run on hope, and certainly believe in collectively creating as clear and as informed an assessment as possible of what we face and our options in overcoming it. That’s definitely not a hopeful picture in the current political and environmental climate. I find, though, that in the midst of struggle you can’t help but set cynicism aside, as it gets you nowhere. In putting theory into action I don’t think you find hope exactly, rather you find the will to fight, and you find strength in fighting together.” (22)


  1. Lead‐in to ‘From The Wire to Hamlet; thoughts on urban studies and the present crisis’ on City’s website (
  2. In City 15.3–4 (forthcoming).
  3. Marcuse, H. (1978) The Aesthetic Dimension. London and New York: Macmillan, pp. 9–10, 72 (Marcuse’s italics); as quoted in Kiernan, R. (2002) Shakespeare, third edition, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, p. 172.
  4. Hall, P. and Hall, P. (2006), ‘Re‐urbanizing the suburbs? The role of theatre, the arts and urban studies’, City, 10.2, pp. 377–392.
  5. Buck, N., Gordon, I., Hall, P., Harloe, M., Kleinman, M. (2002) Working Capital: Life and Labour in Contemporary London. London: Routledge. The book is discussed in 10.2, pp. 185–204 and 10.3, pp. 394–398.
  6. Derrida, J. (1994) Specters of Marx… New York: Routledge. The spectres of Hamlet’s father (enfeebled in the NT production) and of communism have been discussed earlier in this series (particularly 11.1, pp. 131–140.
  7. ‘These gung‐ho cuts mar all that is best in Britain’ Nicholas Hytner, Evening Standard, 31 Mar 2011).
  8. ‘Children of the sun: David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the Conservative party elite’, The Guardian, 2 October 2010. Simon Head is senior and associate fellow of the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford. He is the author of The New Ruthless Economy: Work and Power in the Digital Age (Oxford University Press, 2005).
  9. Hytner, N., A Public Right and Obligation: The Music of the New Deal, BBC 3, 26 March 2011.
  10. Almereyda, M. (2000) William Shakespeare’s HAMLET (adapted by Michael Almereyda), New York: Faber and Faber, p.xi.
  11. One intense moment of re‐call, re‐thinking that brought to my mind the quality of that long revolution and the force of the counterrevolution (indeed the need for such a concept) was the recent revival by the BFI of the work of the filmmaker Bill Douglas, his trilogy (My Childhood, My Ain Folk and My Way Home, made in the 1970s) and Comrades (1987) and the interviews included on the DVDs. The development of his sensibility and vision from childhood in a poverty‐stricken mining village to his cultural awakening supported by, notably, the counter‐culture of the 1970s and 1980s, was part of the flowering of the long revolution (particularly, for example the work of Joan Littlewood and the 7.84 Theatre Company). This was just one example of what was increasingly undermined, destroyed by what I can only adequately describe as a counterrevolution (whose pace has recently quickened, though not unopposed). See 13.4, pp. 531–550.
  12. Colleague Melissa Wilson writes: ‘Right now, this is on my mind all the time, and frequently in my discussions with others. And the people I have mentioned … who are very sensitive and extremely moral – who might have been noble and humble people able to live their lives in peace at one time, really have no where to go now. The society which is being constructed around us like a cancer, is no place for good people’ (email, 29 April).
  13. Jacobs, J. (2005) Dark Age Ahead, New York: Vintage, p.176.
  14. ‘Progressive, like the 1980s’, London Review of Books, Vol. 32, No. 20–21 October 2010, pp. 3–7.
  15. I concentrate here on work that has become available or that I have absorbed since my earlier discussions of Hamlet in this series. Recent advances in Shakespearean criticism also include significant work on Shakespeare and film: for example,  Samuel Crowl’s Shakespeare at the Cineplex: The Kenneth Branagh Era (Athens: Ohio UP, 2003), which has a good chapter on Almereyda’s Hamlet, Maurice Hindle’s Studying Shakespeare on Film (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and Thomas Cartelli and Katherine Rowe’s New Wave Shakespeare on Film (Cambridge: Polity, 2007)
  16. De Grazia, M. (2007) ‘Hamlet’ without Hamlet, CUP. (The NT’s bookshop has very recently started to stock this book).
  17. Lupton, J.R. MLQ, September 2008. p. 418.
  18. Thompson, A, and Taylor, N., eds (2006) Hamlet (Arden Shakespeare series), London: Methuen and Cengage. A useful review of the two volumes is Trench Perez, J. in Atlantis 30.1 (June 2008), pp 149–157. There is an excellent account of the context and significance of the new Arden volumes in Ron Rosenbaum’s wonderful investigation into and exploration of the full range of Shakespeare’s work and of contemporary scholarship, The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups, New York: Random House, 2008.
  19. Ryan’s Shakespeare (see note 3, above), p.72.
  20. Nuttall, N.T. (2007) Shakespeare the Thinker, New Haven and London: Yale U.P. pp. 11–12. UPDATE (JUNE 2011) See, for example, BBC News – Tudor coroners’ records give clue to ‘real Ophelia’ for …7 Jun 2011 – The girl, possibly a young cousin of William Shakespeare, Dr Gunn says there are “tantalising” links to Ophelia’s drowning in Hamlet. Nuttall was referring to the death by drowning of Katharine Hamlett in 1579 (a year in which three others bearing the name Shakespeare died in the Stratford area) Dr Gunn’s research has uncovered ‘ a coroner’s report into the drowning of a Jane Shaxspere in 1569.The girl, possibly a young cousin of William Shakespeare, had been picking flowers when she fell into a millpond near Stratford upon Avon.’
  21. My thanks to David Cunningham for sharing his reading of Horatio with me. Returning to the Hytner– Kinnear reading, it may be noted that it would have been just possible to go one step further down the path to nihilism. Thompson and Taylor tell us of a line of response to Horatio’s speech ‘to the yet unknowing {on} How these things came about’: ‘Perhaps a feeling that this speech is somewhat equivocal (is Horatio waiting to see how Fortinbras will react?) helped to inspire some of the play’s sequels in which he turns out to be secretly in league with Norway…’ ibid., vol 1, p. 462.
  22. ‘London protest against the cuts: a momentous time for mobilization’ by Andrea Gibbons; See also ‘UK: Students (and others) continue to mobilize against the cuts’ by Celine Kuklowsky. Both are on City’s website (

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