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Name: Shakespeare
Creator: William Shakespeare
Date(s): 1590s-1613
Medium: plays
Country of Origin: England
External Links:
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Shakespeare is a medium-sized rarelit fandom based on the plays of the English playwright, William Shakespeare. As his works are not covered by copyright, there are also numerous derivative works in traditionally published media -- the novel Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike, the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard and the rom com Shakespeare in Love to name just three. Fanfiction is the most common fannish activity. Online fanfiction dates back to at least 2000. As with many rarelit fandoms, the annual Yuletide exchange has significantly boosted the fandom's profile since 2003. Other fannish activities include icon creation, and more rarely fanart and vidding.


There is a little fanfiction for almost all the plays, but the most popular sources are Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. Other common source texts include Julius Caesar, Macbeth and Othello among the tragedies and The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night among the comedies. There is also considerable fannish interest in the history plays, such as Henry V. The historical fanworks overlap with historical RPF, although Shakespeare's version rarely follows historical sources. Some fanworks derive from a particular production or adaptation, for example the Franco Zeffirelli film of Romeo and Juliet (1968), the Kenneth Branagh film of Henry V (1989), the Trevor Nunn film of Twelfth Night (1996), the Hungarian musical Rómeó és Júlia (2000s), The Hollow Crown (2012) a series of TV films of the Henriad plays, and the Joss Whedon film of Much Ado About Nothing (2012). Several pro derivative works have their own microfandoms, notably Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Fanfiction often foregrounds slash and (more rarely) femslash pairings, commonly Hamlet/Horatio, Romeo/Mercutio & Viola/Olivia, and plays with the gender ambiguities inherent in the crossdressing comedies. Het often involves canonical pairings such as Romeo/Juliet. Works cover a huge spectrum, with lengths varying from drabbles and vignettes to complete plays and novels. There is also considerable variation in style. Some authors write plays in iambic pentameter; for example, Ellen Fremedon's Yule Morning, or, Malvolio's Revenge. Others prefer to use a more or less modern prose style; Nifra Idril's Waste Our Lights In Vain has echoes of Shakespearean English, while Shayheyred's The Pirate and the Puritan goes for a hardboiled feel. Some authors take this further and set the story in the present day. Gehayi's With A Cunning Hand makes Orsino a mafia boss, while CJ Marlowe has Ophelia sipping lattes in Before the End of All Things. Gileonnen's Fine Revolution goes still further and has Horatio constructing cyborgs in space.

Fusions in which Shakespearean events play out in a different universe are common; for example, Una McCormack casts Blake as Caesar in her Blake's 7 story, The Last Days of Roj Blake. A rare example of a true crossover is Mirabehn's Giver of Gifts, in which the Thane of Glamis meets his match from The Silmarillion.


Shakespeare himself appears in occasional historical RPF, often paired with Christopher Marlowe.


Fanfiction can be found at, which has a Shakespeare section with nearly 2000 works dating back to 2001. AO3 and the Yuletide Archive 2003-2008 are good sources. Angevin2 maintains an index of online fanfiction for the history plays.

On livejournal, the rarelitslash community houses Shakespeare fanworks (not just slash). Shakespeare livejournal comms which publish fanworks include bard-slash, shakespearekink and shaksper-random, and thegreatglobe on dreamwidth. Numerous comms devoted to specific plays have sprung up recently, including chameleonsdish (Hamlet), ides-of-april (Greek & Roman plays), thisengland (history plays), unkindestslash (Julius Caesar), we_few (Henry V) and whatyouwill-12n (Twelfth Night). On Yahoo Groups, Shakespeare-Slash, founded in November 2000, was a pre-livejournal venue for slash fanfiction, but appears currently inactive.

Reccers include Beth H, Espresso Addict and Norah. Recommendations have occasionally appeared on Crack Van and at the Recs livejournal comm.

Notable Works


In order of publication:



A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Mailing Lists

  • Shakespeare Slash archive link "It's no secret that the work of William Shakespeare is full of homoerotic content, be it rather subtle (Mercutio, if you ever thought that was subtle!) or absolutely obvious (the Sonnets). The purpose of this list is to discuss the slashy bits about the plays and the poetry, compile slashy quotes of characters, muse on possible pairings, draw conclusions, write and share fics, discuss the homosocial society of the 16th century and simply have fun! *_* Fics will be gladly accepted, and they can even be in contemporary language! ^_~ Other contemporaries of Shakespeare can be discussed, too. Would be close to heresy to leave out Kit Marlowe, no? *grins* As a matter of fact, all other classic writers are welcome as well, even if they’ve left the Renaissance era already. So, if you have something interesting about Coleridge and Wordsworth to add or want to discuss the torrid love affaire of Rimbaud and Verlaine or the great love triangle of Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley, then this is the right place for you! Please keep in mind that we’ll be discussing the homosexual content of these classic works and the fics that (hopefully) will be posted, will contain homosexual (be it m/m or f/f) and possibly adult material. If this offends you, then this is probably not a list for you. Anybody else: come on in!!! ^_^"

Fan Activities


  1. ^ a b angevin2 in comments to Shakespeare at Fanlore post in thisengland livejournal (accessed 4 October 2011)