While still teaching high school, I responded to a Call for Proposals from a publisher that had an idea for a book: a book about Shakespeare lists. I contacted them and was told to submit a Table of Contents and a sample chapter. My sample chapter was “Shakespeare’s Language,” a topic with which I felt comfortable. I included the most common words used by Shakespeare, 125 odd words used in the plays, word frequency lists for about half of the plays, and my favorite section: The Naughty Bits. I think that last section sold them, and a contract and an advance soon followed. And over the next 18 months, I spent every available moment on the book, working with my editor and designer, and having it published in 2001.
Fifteen years later, I was told that the book was out of print, but if I wanted, I could have the original files and publish a second edition. The Second Edition of The Shakespeare Book of Lists is now completed.
Here is a sampling of some of the lists:
The Bawdiest Plays
- Measure for Measure
- Much Ado About Nothing
- Troilus and Cressida
- Romeo and Juliet
- The Merry Wives of Windsor
- Timon of Athens
- All’s Well That Ends Well
- Henry V
The Most Chaste Plays
- Richard II
- Julius Caesar
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- The Tempest
- Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3
- Richard III
- The Comedy of Errors
- King John
- Portia—Julius Caesar
- Brutus—Julius Caesar
- Cleopatra—Antony and Cleopatra
- Antony—Antony and Cleopatra
- Romeo—Romeo and Juliet
- Juliet—Romeo and Juliet
- Lady Macbeth—Macbeth
- Pyramus and Thisbe—A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Plays Ranked by Length
Number of Lines
|Antony and Cleopatra||3552|
|Troilus and Cressida||3531|
|The Winter’s Tale||3348|
|Henry IV, Part 2||3326|
|Henry VI, Part 2||3130|
|Romeo and Juliet||3099|
|Henry IV, Part 1||3081|
|All’s Well That Ends Well||3013|
|Henry VI, Part 3||2915|
|The Merry Wives of Windsor||2891|
|Measure for Measure||2891|
|Love’s Labour’s Lost||2829|
|As You Like It||2810|
|Much Ado About Nothing||2787|
|The Merchant of Venice||2701|
|Henry VI, Part 1||2695|
|The Taming of the Shrew||2676|
|Timon of Athens||2488|
|The Two Gentlemen of Verona||2288|
|A Midsummer Night’s Dream||2192|
|The Comedy of Errors||1787|
Some Common Ailments in Shakespeare (a partial list)
Ague — a fever, probably a form of malaria.Some Common Ailments in Shakespeare (a partial list)
An untimely ague stay’d me a prisoner in my chamber. (Henry VIII)
Apoplexy — a cold humour that stops the brain.
This apoplexy will certain be his end. (Henry IV, Part 1)
Consumption — tuberculosis.
I yield upon great persuasion; and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption. (Much Ado About Nothing)
Dropsy — a term used for the symptoms of scurvy, colon cancer, or liver failure.
The dropsy drown this fool! What do you mean to dote thus on such luggage? (The Tempest)
Falling sickness — epilepsy.
‘Tis very like: he hath the falling sickness. (Julius Caesar)
Flux — probably dysentery.
Civet is of a baser birth than tar, the very uncleanly flux of a cat. (As You Like It)
French pox — syphilis.
News have I, that my Nell is dead i’ the spital of malady of France. (Henry V)
Gaol fever — typhus.
Here in the prison, father, there died this morning of a cruel fever one Ragozine, a most notorious pirate. (Measure for Measure)
Green sickness — anemia from a lack of iron.
Caesar is sad; and Lepidus, since Pompey’s feast, as Menas says, is troubled with the green sickness. (Antony and Cleopatra)