The Friday Fact

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This summer we are going to try something new on Fridays: facts! Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we can’t learn, so we will be bringing you interesting tidbits about Shakespeare all summer long. Here’s our first fact. Over the years, plenty of writers have used quotes from Shakespeare’s plays as titles for their own novels or books. Here’s a short list:

1. Dorothy L. Sayers – Gaudy Night. This is a mystery novel, and the title is from Antony and Cleopatra.

2. Isaac Asimov – The Gods Themselves. Also from Antony and Cleopatra, this phrase appears in Hamlet, King Lear and several other plays. (When Shakespeare knew he had a winning phrase, he often used it more than once!)

3. Aldous Huxley – Brave New World. We learned about this on a past Wordy Wednesday. It’s from The Tempest.

4. R.L. Stine – Sign of Fear. Yes, even a young adult novelist has used a Shakespeare quote! From Coriolanus, no less; any guesses as to what that play’s about?

5. Edith Wharton – The Glimpses of the Moon. Wharton, a novelist your blogger highly recommends, used a quote from Hamlet to title this novel.

6. Agatha Christie – The Mousetrap. OK, so Shakespeare probably didn’t invent the word mousetrap, but in Hamlet, there’s a play within the play called The Mouse-trap, a title Christie then used for her own play (a murder mystery)!

7. David Foster Wallace – Infinite Jest. This massive novel’s title comes from Hamlet.

8. Charles Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne – Twice-Told Tales. Both of these great writers used this phrase from King John, one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays, which despite its obscurity also gave a title to our next book…

9. Stella Gibbons – Cold Comfort Farm. Gibbons’s novel is totally hilarious and highly recommended!

10. William Faulkner – The Sound and the Fury. This is from one of the best and most memorable speeches in Macbeth.

11. Ann-Marie Macdonald – Goodnight, Desdemona (Good Morning, Juliet). Canadian author Macdonald’s play takes its name from two of Shakespeare’s most famous female characters.

12. Vladimir Nabokov – Pale Fire. From Timon of Athens, another more obscure play.

There are many, many, many more than the ones on this list. Some authors are repeat offenders. Agatha Christie, one of the world’s most popular mystery writers, used a lot of Shakespeare in her book titles. Your blogger, a Christie fan, especially recommends Sad Cypress. The title is from Twelfth Night.

What do you think? Would you use a Shakespeare quote for the title of your novel? Which quote, and why?

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