Tales From Shakespeare

Front Cover
Penguin, Jun 5, 2007 - Fiction - 352 pages
The Work of the World’s Greatest Dramatist

A great way to enjoy twenty of Shakespeare’s timeless plays, this volume is a retelling of the stories in prose by the famous nineteenth-century brother and sister Charles and Mary Lamb. Keeping Shakespeare’s own words whenever possible but making the plots and language easily accessible, this entertaining and readable collection has enthralled both children and adults ever since it first appeared in 1807. Here Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies and comedies come to life. Defined by moving drama, vivid action, great wit, or fantastic imagination, each play comes alive with charm and clarity for readers of any age—as a helpful preface to the original Elizabethan version or even as enriching, unforgettable stories in themselves.

With an Introduction by Susan J. Wolfson and an Afterword by Sylvan Barnet, general editor of the Signet Classic Shakespeare series.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


An Overview
A Midsummer Nights Dream
The Winters Tale
Much Ado About Nothing
As You Like
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Merchant of Venice
King Lear
Alls Well That Ends Well
The Taming of the Shrew

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Charles and Mary Lamb were brother and sister, both gifted writers plagued with madness at certain times in their lives. Charles Lamb is best known for the brilliant personal essays he wrote under the name Elia, first published in London magazine from 1820 to 1823. He was highly acclaimed as a critic and was a close friend to some of the greatest authors of his time, particularly Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Leigh Hunt. For a time in 1795–96, he suffered a nervous breakdown. Then, in 1796, Mary, in a fit of derangement, fatally stabbed their mother. Charles undertook the charge of his sister, who suffered periodic breakdowns, and she gratefully repaid him with deep affection and caring. Together they produced Tales from Shakespeare (1807) and Mrs. Leicester’s School (1809), a largely autobiographical collection of stories mostly written by Mary. In The Adventures of Ulysses (1808), Charles also adapted The Odyssey into a form more accessible to the layman. Charles died in 1834 and Mary in 1847.
Susan J. Wolfson, Professor of English at Princeton University, is a widely recognized authority on British Romanticism, the era in which the Lambs’ Tales from Shakespeare was first published. She is the author of several books, including Formal Charges: The Shaping of Poetry in British Romanticism and Borderlines: The Shiftings of Gender in British Romanticism, as well as many articles on the writers, texts, and issues of literary study, particularly in the Romantic era. She is also on the board of the editors of the Longman Anthology of British Literature and General Editor of the Longman Cultural Editions.

Sylvan Barnet received a BA from New York University and an MA and a PhD from Harvard University. At Tufts University, where he served as chair of the Department of English, he taught courses ranging from Chaucer to twentieth-century literature, though he specialized in courses on Renaissance drama. He is the general editor of the Signet Classics Shakespeare series, the author of numerous essays on Shakespeare as well as of A Short Guide to Shakespeare, and the author and coauthor of several dramatic texts, including editions of selected plays by Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw.

Bibliographic information