Straight Acting: The Many Queer Lives of William Shakespeare – Will Tosh


Publication Date: 13th June 2024

Was Shakespeare gay? The answer is both simpler and more complex than you might think…

Shakespeare’s work was profoundly influenced by the queer culture of his time – much of it totally integrated into mainstream society. From a relentless schooling in Latin and Greek homoeroticism, to a less formal education on the streets and in smoky taverns, from the gender-bending of the early comedies to the astonishingly queer literary scene that nurtured Shakespeare’s sonnets, this is a story of artistic development and of personal crisis. Straight Acting is a surprising portrait of Shakespeare’s queer lives – his own and those in his plays and poems.

It is a journey back in time and through Shakespeare’s England, revealing a culture that both endorsed and supressed same-sex desire. It is a call to stop making Shakespeare act straight and to recognise how queerness powerfully shaped the life and career of the world’s most famous playwright.

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