- You may be looking for the real Shakespeare.
William Shakespeare, also known as William Shackspur, William Shaxsberd, William Shaxberd and, (PROSE: Apocrypha Bipedium) in an alternate timeline, as Concuthasta, (PROSE: Warlords of Utopia) was widely considered to be the greatest poet and playwright in the history of England and one of the greatest in human history. The Tenth Doctor considered him the most "human" human that ever lived. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
Many sources depicted Shakespeare as a real individual who shared interactions with the Doctor on multiple occasions, (AUDIO: The Time of the Daleks, COMIC: A Groatsworth of Wit) as history recorded, (PROSE: The Whoniverse) but others claimed that Shakespeare was "no more than a rumour" and that "no real empirical evidence of anyone of that name in courtly circles" existed, with one stating it was an alias of Christopher Marlowe. (PROSE: All Done with Mirrors) Additionally, sources that agreed on Shakespeare's existence conflicted over the circumstances of his demise. One claimed that he died in April 1616 after being poisoned on the orders of Walter Raleigh (PROSE: The Empire of Glass) but another depicted him as taking the place of the doomed King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, with the real Richard taking Shakespeare's place in history in 1597. (AUDIO: The Kingmaker)
In a 20th century textbook owned by the Coal Hill library, it was acknowledged that for all his plays, "little" was known about the man himself. (PROSE: A History of Humankind) By 1963, literary scholars had argued about whether Shakespeare had really written his own works for centuries. History teacher Barbara Wright considered Francis Bacon such a credible candidate for the true author that she attempted to use the Time-Space Visualiser to find out for certain. (PROSE: The Chase) Indeed, Iris Wildthyme once concurred with this theory, having been told by Will himself that he and Bacon had an "arrangement". (PROSE: Minions of the Moon) Of Shakespeare's contemporaries, Thomas Middleton was another possibility, with some evidence existing that Macbeth contained "interpolations" drawn from Middleton's work. (PROSE: The True Tragedie of Macbeth)
The true authorship of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets was still considered an "ancient mystery" in the space-faring age of the 25th century with the list of potential candidates having been expanded to include extra-terrestrials. According to one account, all of his work had in fact been written by the Dalek Emperor. (COMIC: City of the Daleks) Other accounts showed multiple incarnations of the Doctor helping with the authorship of his works, particularly with Hamlet, (PROSE: The Stranger, The Writer, His Wife and the Mixed Metaphor, TV: City of Death, AUDIO: The Foe from the Future) with yet more accounts indicating that Shakespeare was paradoxically given access to some or all of his works by the Doctor. (PROSE: All Done with Mirrors, Apocrypha Bipedium, The Tempest - A Work in Progress)
The Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard met a young Will Shakespeare who had been taken out of his rightful time (1572) by Viola Learman and brought to New Britain in the early 21st century. (AUDIO: The Time of the Daleks) The three of them briefly ended up in Asia Minor, where they encountered the Doctor's previous companion, Vicki, calling herself Cressida, and her husband Troilus. The Doctor was afraid that Will would learn too much about his future play, Troilus and Cressida, but learned that Shakespeare had not invented the story. (PROSE: Apocrypha Bipedium) The Doctor eventually dropped Shakespeare off in Warwick in his own time period. (AUDIO: Foreshadowing)
Shakespeare was an uneducated rural actor, later turned playwright. (COMIC: A Groatsworth of Wit) Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in 1582 and they went on to have three children; Susanna was born shortly after they married, with twins Judith and Hamnet born in 1585. Some time after 1585, he moved to London where he started his career as an actor, poet and playwright. (PROSE: A History of Humankind)
In 1592, the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler encountered Shakespeare at the Rose theatre, where he was to perform the lead part on the premiere night of his play Richard III. At the Doctor's request, Rose agreed to distract Shakespeare from the stage "with a hey nonny nonny", telling him Queen Elizabeth I was ready to immediately give him a royal audience at his home, in an attempt to stop the Shadey-influenced Robert Greene from murdering him. When the two reached his house and found no Elizabeth, Shakespeare interpreted it as an attempt by Rose "to wrest [him] to [her] side". However, Greene soon appeared with the Shadeys and demonstrated his powers. Although Shakespeare dismissed the "magic" of the "clay-brained fool" as "an illusion", Rose pulled him away and they ran back to theatre, where the Doctor had taken up the role of Richard III at short notice. Shakespeare was initially more concerned with the Doctor's unscheduled intrusion onto his stage, calling him a "dog" and reclaiming Richard's hump from the Doctor's back. He also briefly put Earth in further peril by continuing to antagonise Greene. Nevertheless, the Doctor and Rose eventually defused the situation and convinced Greene to banish the Shadeys back to their own dimension. Shakespeare was unfazed by the whole experience and refused to let "such trick-shows" interfere with his future career. (COMIC: A Groatsworth of Wit)
The "death" of Christopher Marlowe
One account stated that Shakespeare was another name for playwright Christopher Marlowe. He observed that his "true name denote[d] a celebration of savagery, of the music of power, the beauty of war and conflict, the lexicon of blood and death" whilst his other name also did this but with lighter expression and more enamoured establishment.
Although history recorded that Marlowe died on 30 May 1593 (PROSE: All Done with Mirrors) in a tavern in Deptford, (PROSE: Master Faustus, Raleigh Dreaming) this account stated that the Fourth Doctor posed as Marlowe to fake his death which allowed Marlowe to permanently become Shakespeare. The Doctor gave Marlowe his copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare as a parting gift and told him to only use it "if he really [got] stuck". The Doctor told Sarah Jane Smith that as long as Marlowe kept a low profile nobody would find out and the secret would die with him in about twenty-three years. (PROSE: All Done with Mirrors)
The Shakespeare Notebooks, a collection of works supposedly written by Shakespeare which an academic publication invited the reader "to determine whether you believe the Shakespeare Notebooks are indeed genuine, or an elaborate hoax" for themselves, held a different account of Marlowe's death. This account held that it was the Master who tried to prevent Marlowe's death by taking him away from Deptford shortly before he was scheduled to die, with Marlowe travelling with the Master for some time before accepting fate and returning to Deptford to be stabbed to death by Dullberry and Dobbin. (PROSE: Master Faustus) Another account held that Marlowe was stabbed to death by the Time Agent John Hart after he had sex with him alongside Jack Harkness. (AUDIO: The Death of Captain Jack)
According to a second account which explicitly separated Marlowe and Shakespeare, Marlowe had actually travelled to the colony of Roanoke in the future United States to spy on Sir Walter Raleigh. He actually died in 1609 as a result of a duel. (PROSE: The Empire of Glass) Other accounts depicted both Shakespeare and Marlowe as having been resurrected in the City of the Saved. (PROSE: The Book of the War, Unification Theory)
Influencing the past
Advising Richard III
In 1597, the Fifth Doctor shared a few drinks with Shakespeare, during which he condemned the playright for failing to do any historical research for his play Richard III. The Doctor called him a "fiction peddling puppet to the House of Tudor and a lapdog to the court of Queen Elizabeth", telling him people were already questioning Richard's motives for killing the Princes in the Tower with suspicion falling upon his beloved Queen's grandfather Henry Tudor while by the 20th century his play would be seen for what it was, "nothing but tawdry propaganda". The defamation of Elizabeth's lineage was unacceptable to Shakespeare so he stowed away in the TARDIS, as the Doctor had said he going to investigate the Princes' disappearance, with the hope of persuading Richard to kill the Princes in such a way unmistakable to history. The Doctor left in 1485 but Shakespeare was stranded when the TARDIS accidentally went to 1483.
Richard and Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, saw Shakespeare emerge from the TARDIS and questioned him on his identity. Adopting the alias Mr Seyton, he claimed to be a wise traveller from the future come to give counsel to Richard. He told him that if he allowed Edward V to ascend to the throne then the Woodvilles would influence Edward into putting Richard to death, eventually leading to his deposing by the French and the end of the monarchy. Richard knew from the start that Seyton was untrustworthy but allowed him to return to London with him to act as his advisor anyway. Richard did end up taking the throne as Richard III, albeit only to prevent scandal when he discovered "Edward" was Susan, but consistently rejected Shakespeare's arguments that the "Princes" should die and instead held them in the Tower of London.
Around six months into Richard's reign, Shakespeare stopped Stafford when he recruited Peri Brown and Erimem to poison the Princes by firing a Cyber-rifle (which he had found in the TARDIS) in their direction. Shakespeare revealed to Stafford that he also wanted the Princes dead but that he wanted Richard's own hands bloodied, at which point Stafford would get the uprising he desired. They conspired with each other to get Peri and Erimem killed for helping the Princes escape but the two women fled when they overheard this plan. Once Shakespeare realised he had lost Peri and Erimem, he instead decided to betray Stafford and inform Richard of his treachery. He expected Richard to reward him for his loyalty but he actually ordered James Tyrell to his escort him to the dungeons.
Shakespeare later spoke to Richard about what a "straight arrow" the Doctor was and how he was sure to stop his plan. Richard asked in response if that meant he would stop Shakespeare's plan to kill the Princes. Seyton became "cagey" by this which puzzled Richard, so he tortured Seyton until he revealed everything. (AUDIO: The Kingmaker)
Becoming Richard III
After Richard captured the Doctor as a prisoner in 1485, he told Seyton's jailer he had "no further use" for him and asked the jailer to "get rid of him" but instead of executing Seyton as Richard had intended, he let him go.
Shakespeare plotted to threaten Peri and Erimem with his Cyber-rifle and take them to the Doctor. He found him in his cell along with Richard, Clarrie, Susan and Judith. The latter trio had been staging a rescue attempt but Shakespeare allowed them to leave when they claimed to be serving wenches delivering food to prisoners. His plan to have Richard kill the Princes himself obviously having failed by this point, Shakespeare decided to instead take Richard to his native time and have him stand trial for his crimes in the court of Queen Elizabeth. Shakespeare, still armed, escorted Richard, the Doctor and his companions back to the TARDIS where they set a course for 1597.
During the journey, Richard revealed that there had been no princes in the Tower at all and that Edward IV had not had sons but daughters, Susan and Judith. Shakespeare branded this a fraud on a scale never before seen and demanded to return to 1485 to collect the girls but at that moment they arrived in 1597, on stage during a performance of Richard III. Although this landing location quickly convinced Shakespeare to leave the TARDIS as he tried to salvage what was left of the interrupted performance, Richard soon followed suit when he saw the playwright speaking with Richard Burbage, who was playing Richard himself. Enraged by his unflattering and stereotypical portrayal, he confronted Shakespeare about the matter before finally taking Burbage's sword and chasing Shakespeare out of the theatre and throughout London's streets.
However, Shakespeare doubled back to the TARDIS, and threatened to detonate what he believed to be a Sontaran grenade (though was really the Doctor's toothbrush) unless the Doctor returned immediately to 1485. Declaring he owed Queen Elizabeth for everything and that he no longer cared what happened to him, he took Erimem hostage and threatened to detonate the grenade but Erimem broke his arm after Peri pointed out he had his hand on her Royal behind. At that moment, a publisher's robot materialised and told Shakespeare his second draft of The Tempest was 7103 years overdue for delivery. It chased him out of the TARDIS and into the midst of the raging Battle of Bosworth; the Doctor asked Richard to when he wanted to be returned and he was intent on "fulfilling his destiny" so the Doctor had set the coordinates for his final battle. As Shakespeare continued to be pursued by what onlooking soldiers thought to be a "huge knight", his injured arm and limp matched the sterotypical description of King Richard. He was soon cornered by Henry Tudor's troops and forced to climb a tree to save himself from being cut to pieces. One of the King's supporters who witnessed this vowed to let it be recorded that "Richard died fighting like a lion and not blubbing like a big baby hiding up a tree". (AUDIO: The Kingmaker)
According to another account, the King at Bosworth begun quoting Shakespeare's Richard III towards the end of the battle and was crying out "My horse! My horse! My kingdom for a" until a unicorn materialised in front of him, saving his life. This event was caused by the meddling of Rose, the Tenth Doctor's cat. (COMIC: A Rose by Any Other Name)
With Shakespeare now assuredly dead, the real Richard remained in 1597 to take his allotted place in history; he had never really wanted power and saw taking up Shakespeare's writing career as his second chance at earning a place in history. Richard asked the Doctor how much material he had to write, having experienced trouble early on with spelling his name correctly, and the Doctor told him he "just had to knock up a few plays, a couple of historicals, a handful of tragedies, [and] a few comedies", though recommended asking Francis Bacon for writing tips should he ever struggle with the language. He also told him he was supposed to be writing Henry IV, Part 1 around this time and suggested putting his brother George into his first Shakespearan play to give him the immortality history couldn't, an idea Richard found appealing. Settling into his new life as Shakespeare, Richard was soon joined by Susan and Judith, whom the Doctor had brought forward in time to join him; history recorded that not only had Shakespeare had a son who perished, as he had previously stated, but two daughters named Susanna and Judith, so the Doctor knew their true destiny lay with their uncle as he pursued his own. (AUDIO: The Kingmaker)
In 1599, the Tenth Doctor encountered Shakespeare when the witch-like Carrionites wanted the wordsmith to complete the lost play Love's Labour's Won to free the rest of their kind. With the help of the Doctor and Martha Jones, the three Carrionites and their sisters were banished back into the Deep Darkness. However, the play was banished along with the Carrionites. During this encounter, Shakespeare developed an attraction to the Doctor and Martha, whom he addressed as his "Dark Lady". (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
Via the Time-Space Visualiser, the First Doctor and his companions watched William Shakespeare in conversation with Queen Elizabeth I about Hamlet. (TV: The Chase) The First Doctor collaborated with Shakespeare between drafts one and two of Hamlet. (PROSE: Byzantium!) The Fourth Doctor claimed that he helped Shakespeare transcribe Hamlet as Shakespeare had sprained his wrist writing sonnets. The Doctor claimed that he had warned Shakespeare that Hamlet's line "to take arms against a sea of troubles" was a mixed metaphor, but Shakespeare would not listen. (TV: City of Death, PROSE: The Stranger, The Writer, His Wife and the Mixed Metaphor)
In 1601, he met the First Doctor and his friends. He tried to get the TARDIS back from the Queen but was waylaid due to a plan of his daughter Judith Shakespeare and Lady Penelope Rich to put on an uncut version of Richard III. This caused him to be arrested by Robert Cecil for treason. He and the Doctor tried to work out how to escape the Tower. He explained the circumstances around the recent play performance. (AUDIO: The Hollow Crown)
On 17 January 1605, Shakespeare met Amy Pond when she and Rory Williams went to see Romeo and Juliet at the Globe during their honeymoon. In a postcard, Amy told the Eleventh Doctor Shakespeare said "Hi", or actually "more like 'Hey nonny no'", then tried to touch her bum. They were interrupted when James I turned up and tried to have her and Rory arrested upon learning of their association with the Doctor. (PROSE: Honeymoon Horrors)
In 1609, according to one account, Shakespeare, acting as an agent of the Crown, encountered the First Doctor, Irving Braxiatel, and Galileo Galilei in Venice, and was reunited with Christopher Marlowe, whom he thought was dead. The Doctor forcibly made Shakespeare take a retcon-like drug to erase his memory of the events that he had witnessed. Shakespeare died in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1616, having been poisoned on the orders of Sir Walter Raleigh who had been released from the Tower of London only five weeks earlier. Braxiatel visited the playwright on his deathbed and restored the Englishman's memories of his time in Venice. (PROSE: The Empire of Glass)
The Golden Emperor
- Main article: Dalek Prime
According to one account, the Golden Emperor, the first Dalek ever created, (COMIC: Genesis of Evil, TV: Genesis of the Daleks) was responsible for all of the Shakespeare plays and sonnets. (COMIC: City of the Daleks)
During a war against the Daleks in the early 25th century, (COMIC: Invasion of the Daleks, PROSE: Break-through!) Jeff Stone was sent to Skaro on a scout mission. He infiltrated the Dalek City where he observed, amongst other things, a report from the Ministry of Re-Education in the Hall of Fame. The notice ordered the Daleks in the area to commit the fact to memory. The Daleks also took credit for a number of other human achievements. Although he was discovered, Jeff ultimately escaped Skaro in his ship and returned to Earth with a report on what he had seen in the City. (COMIC: City of the Daleks)
The City of the Saved
After his original death in 1616, Shakespeare continued being a successful writer in his second life in the City of the Saved. He wrote the hit soap opera The Prosperos, which lasted about fifty years. (PROSE: The Book of the War)
After Tia Kofi entered the Time Fracture as a part of Operation Time Fracture, she ended up in Elizabethan England wherein she met Shakespeare. However when she referred to him by his name, he revealed that he has renounced it due to a play of his going wrong. He instead changed his to Tia Kofi II, offering to be her apprentice.
He invited her into his office and discussed a commission made by Elizabeth I to write a tale and asks her to assist him in writing and performing it. Revealing that it is Romeo and Juliet, Tia decides to play the part of Juliet. Before they could celebrate with drinks, Tia was whisked away elsewhere by the Fracture. (WC: Tia Kofi Enters the Time Fracture!)
In a timeline where River Song caused time to collapse when she refused to kill the Eleventh Doctor, (TV: The Wedding of River Song) Shakespeare became the boss of EastEnders. (PROSE: Just a Minute...)
In Roma I the author of Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra was known as Concuthasta; he had a counterpart in the history of every Britannia throughout the Known Worlds. (PROSE: Warlords of Utopia)
William Shakespeare wrote a number of plays, including A Midsummer Night's Dream, (PROSE: Slow Decay) Hamlet, (TV: The Chase) Macbeth, (PROSE: The True Tragedie of Macbeth) Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
When the Second Doctor landed in Australia in 2018, he was actually trying to get to either William Shakespeare's house in Stratford or the Pan-Galactic Games on Alpha Centauri, as Victoria Waterfield had wanted to see how her ancestors had lived in the late 16th century. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Apocalypse)
The Fourth Doctor told Leela that Shakespeare was the greatest poet in the English language "with [his] assistance." (AUDIO: The Foe from the Future) He considered Shakespeare a "charming fellow," but a "dreadful actor." (TV: Planet of Evil) Conversely, the Fifth Doctor later described him as a "hack" to his companions Peri Brown and Erimem. (AUDIO: The Kingmaker) The Sixth Doctor quoted Hamlet to the Master and the First Rani. He called him "the Bard" and intended to meet him again. (TV: The Mark of the Rani) By the time of his tenth incarnation, his opinion of Shakespeare's work had considerably improved as he spoke of it in glowing terms to Martha. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
Shakespeare was notable for being one of the few humans who, without receiving any known sort of psychic training, was not fooled by the Doctor's psychic paper. The Doctor was very impressed by this fact and applauded him, stating it was proof that he was a genius. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
The Ninth Doctor told Rose Tyler that, despite rumours, Shakespeare was very much heterosexual. (COMIC: A Groatsworth of Wit) In spite of this, he still flirted with the Tenth Doctor, to which the Doctor commented, "57 academics just punched the air." (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
Behind the scenes
- The conflicting revelations in City of the Daleks, All Done with Mirrors and The Kingmaker regarding Shakespeare's true identity have largely been ignored by other sources. The Shakespeare Code, for example, is set after the events of both All Done with Mirrors and The Kingmaker but presents Shakespeare as nothing but the definite article. Additionally, it is not elaborated upon in City of the Daleks whether there was ever a real Shakespeare or not and the story is somewhat ambiguous as to whether its claim could simply be interpreted as Dalek propaganda, with just a single panel being devoted to it.
- In The Shakespeare Code, the Tenth Doctor acts as though he's never met Shakespeare before, despite the Fourth Doctor indicating in City of Death that he knew Shakespeare well enough to help him write Hamlet. Reportedly a line of dialogue was written for the later episode to explain this, but the line was cut. The Ninth Doctor also claims in A Groatsworth of Wit that he's known Shakespeare "for ages."
- During The Shakespeare Code there is a moment when the Doctor notices Shakespeare is flirting with him after just having done so with Martha. The Doctor says, "Come on, we can all have a good flirt later!" [in reference to them needing to stop the Carrionites]. Shakespeare responds, "Is that a promise, Doctor?" The Doctor muses, mostly to himself, "Fifty-seven academics just punched the air." This is a reference to the idea that most of Shakespeare's sonnets, including Sonnet 18, are believed by some Shakespearean academics to be addressed to a man, and there is a sizable body of scholarship on Shakespeare's sexuality.
- William Shakespeare is one of three historical figures who are available as playable characters in the online game TARDIS Tennis.
- In the story of Doctor Who: Legacy, the Seventh Doctor, stressing the importance of preventing the Sontarans' interference in the timeline, cites William Shakespeare as an example of an important person in human history whose existence is endangered.
- In 2016, BBC One aired a televised version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream adapted by Doctor Who head writer and executive producer Russell T Davies, with music by Murray Gold, starring Matt Lucas, Bernard Cribbins, Colin MacFarlane, Richard Wilson, Nonso Anozie and Eleanor Matsuura, and had many of BBC Wales' Doctor Who crew working on it.