The Shakespeare death tercentenary celebrations in England and Scotland: How British was Shakespeare in 1916?
The tercentenary of Shakespeare’s death fell in 1916, during the Great War. Scholarship on the commemorations has so far focused on English attitudes to Shakespeare, with critics demonstrating how celebrants in England linked Shakespeare to notions of patriotism and national pride. This paper shows that celebrants in both Scotland and England used Shakespeare to stress the importance of British unity in wartime, and associated him with a range of concerns unrelated to national identity. It concludes with the idea that the flexibility of Shakespeare’s figure mirrors the nature of “Britishness,” making the Shakespeare of 1916 a “British icon.”
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