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William Shakespeare was known as 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, PROSE: Apocrypha Bipedium, 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. (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 the 25th century, the true authorship of his plays and sonnets was considered an "ancient mystery" by some. According to one account, the answer to this riddle was that all of his work had in fact been written by the Dalek Emperor. (COMIC: City of the Daleks) Other accounts showed the Doctor as 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, The Tempest - A Work in Progress)
Biography[edit | edit source]
Early life[edit | edit source]
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 an older Shakespeare, where he was to perform the lead part of his play Richard III at The Rose theatre. At the Doctor's request, Rose agreed to distract Shakespeare from the stage "with a hey nonny nonny" in an attempt to stop Robert Greene from murdering him. He dismissed an attempt by Shadeys to destroy the Earth as a trick-show, and did not let it interfere with his future career. (COMIC: A Groatsworth of Wit)
The "death" of Christopher Marlowe[edit | edit source]
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 permananently 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 with the secret dying 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 seperated 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)
The Battle of Bosworth[edit | edit source]
According to one account, in 1597, the Fifth Doctor shared a drink with Shakespeare. He later stowed away in the TARDIS and began to attempt to influence the reign of King Richard III of England to more closely resemble the account in his play Richard III. Over the course of the adventure, Shakespeare's arm was broken by Erimem and he was further injured by a robot who was sent by publishers from the 64th century to get the Doctor to finish his Doctor Who Discovers book. Finding himself in the TARDIS, Shakespeare threatened to detonate a Sontaran grenade unless the Doctor returned him to 1485 to pick up Edward IV's daughters, Susan and Judith. Returning to 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth, which history recorded as Richard's final defeat, with his injured arm and limp, Shakespeare matched the stereotypical description of King Richard, and was killed by Richard's enemies in his place at the battle. (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 meddlings of Rose, the Tenth Doctor's cat. (COMIC: A Rose by Any Other Name)
Meanwhile, Richard took Shakespeare's place in 1597 and was joined by Judith and Susan who posed as his daughters, having been brought forward in time by the Doctor. Before leaving, the Doctor recommended that Richard contact Francis Bacon for writing tips. (AUDIO: The Kingmaker)
Henry Tudor suceeded Richard as King of England, beginning the Tudor dynasty, and later married Elizabeth of York to unite the warring families in the aftermath of the Wars of the Roses. (TV: The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo) By 2019, a body believed to be Richard's had been found in a car park in Leicester. (TV: Resolution)
Later life[edit | edit source]
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 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[edit | edit source]
- 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[edit | edit source]
Alternate timelines[edit | edit source]
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 was the head writer of EastEnders. (PROSE: Just a Minute...)
Works[edit | edit source]
William Shakespeare wrote a number of plays, including A Midsummer Night's Dream, (PROSE: Slow Decay) Hamlet, (TV: The Chase) Macbeth, (PROSE: The True Tragedy of Macbeth) Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
References[edit | edit source]
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 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)
Personality[edit | edit source]
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[edit | edit source]
- 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.
- According to The Brilliant Book 2012, a non-narrative reference book, in 1605, Shakespeare met Amy Pond and Rory Williams at a show of Romeo and Juliet and flirted with Amy until King James I tried to arrest them for their association with the Doctor.
- 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.
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