Paintings of Shakespeare's plays in the British Isles and Italy
In 2015 I painted a map of Shakepeare’s plays in the approximate location of where they’re set. It was fun to do, but it was tricky to fit all the plays set in the British Isles and Italy in the small amount of space available.
There was only one thing for it – paint two more maps! One of Shakespeare’s British plays and one of the Italian plays.
Each play is shown with its title, a quotation from the play and a small illustration.
Shakespeare’s British Plays
Many of Will’s plays are set in many parts of the British Isles, and some of the action takes place in France.
So being faithful to regional geography was going to be impossible. I have had to play rather ‘fast and loose’ with locations and use history to guide me.
For example, I put Richard II in East Anglia as an acknowledgement of the king’s brutal quelling of the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381. Peasant leader Wat Tyler came from Essex.
Thankfully some of the plays have a much more straightforward geography: Cymbeline in Wales, Macbeth in Scotland and the Merry Wives in Windsor. Richard III stretches from York down to Leicester, and King John is over is Worcestershire because he is buried in Worcester Cathedral.
I hope it’s As You Like It.
Shakespeare’s Italian plays
Deciding what is an Italian play was not as simple as you might think!
Shakespeare set many of his plays in multiple locations. In some cases only a little of the drama takes place in Italy, for example The Winter’s Tale, Othello, All’s Well, and Cymbeline. The first of those three do appear on my Italian plays painting, but Cymbeline does not because he already appears on my painting of the British Plays.
So here, you can see: Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, The Tempest and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. I was delighted with my Cleopatra, especially her headdress, and I very much enjoyed painting the swaggering arrogance of Petruchio as he carries off a kicking and screaming Kate.
While I was researching the Roman plays, I was intrigued to learn that Romans rode horses without stirrups. I also learned that Titus Andronicus is the most violent story in the world EVER.
See my Shakespeare collection.
This blog was originally posted in 2016, revised and republished in 2022.