My English teacher once told me that if I wished to waste my life, I should try to have an original thought about Shakespeare. We were down in the dusty, dimly-lit catacombs of the English & Philosophy department, where, ensconced in endless racks, sat endless books – like casks of ancient wine fermenting their words into wisdom. Past a narrow, cobwebbed door, down into deeper darkness we pushed until we came to a space, barely visible in the lambent orange glow of an incandescent bulb. My teacher gestured magnificently at the books within – which covered every surface from floor to ceiling – as if presenting his finest Amontillado. “This is where I keep the books on Hamlet.”
The point – as I’ve no doubt you will have readily grasped, dear reader – is that when it comes to Shakespeare, we’ve had a while to think about the chap and are in danger of having already said everything that we could possibly say. But you know, the rather nice thing about Shakespeare is that he wrote plays – and plays are something new every time.
Spookily, we’ve been deprived of plays and performances for a while now, in situations that the Bard himself would not have found unfamiliar. The Globe itself, and all other London theatres, were shut down in the summer of 1606 for a period of quarantine after an outbreak of plague, leaving our beloved wordsmith shut up in his house, penning the heart-rending speeches of King Lear.
But let’s return back to the present, where we all sit with our fingers drumming patiently on The Complete Works. To take a phrase out of context – the play’s the thing. Shakespeare’s work has endured not only for its obvious depth and quality, but also for the very fact that his works are plays. With every performance of a play, each actor and director read the text and bring something new from within their own mind and heart to the performance – every play performed is a rebirth of an enduring classic. A play is not something that can sit in a darkened cellar, moldering quietly on brittle pages, encased in cracked leather – it begs to be read, and read aloud – it demands to be played.
It is us that makes this beautiful tradition and this beautiful work endure – a play needs players, and it needs spectators in order to breathe. In such a way, a play becomes more than a recitation of old words, for by its performance and observation, it becomes in itself an act of creation.
It is this endless act of creation that we salute in our Shakespeare pens. As we write, through us flows the same tradition of creation that flowed through every hand which ever touched a quill. Whether you rhyme in couplets or soliloquise in iambic pentameter, the inks flows from our Shakespeare pens as sweetly as your ideas.
With our Vermeil, Sterling Silver and Black & Gold pens we honour Shakespeare’s legacy in its entirety with his signature and famous portrait – smiling roguishly up at you whilst you execute the wittiest puns.
Our Hamlet and Prospero pens honour a couple of his most enduring characters. The Prospero pen, with its gorgeous green – expresses the unconditional love and compassion of the character whilst the pearlescence speaks of the mysterious and unknowable nature of his Art. This, sectioned with black and banded in gold, of his noble power and stature.
The Hamlet pen is centred around mortality, and choices – the duality of the black and white. The pattern on the sterling silver cap band is based on the decoration from the Hamlet First folio (1623), with an added twist to incorporate mirrored, crowned skulls as reference to the themes of death, duty, and kingship within the play – which skulls are upward depends on your perspective…
As the world opens back up, and theatres slowly fill with eager thespians and their admiring audience, and you watch Caliban capering upon the boards – remember that you too are engaging in a wonderful act of creation. This is not words on paper, entombed in a silent basement. This is an active heritage, a living, breathing classic being made for the first time – in your assigned seat, with your own mind, heart and experiences, watching this set of actors – nobody else sees the same play as you do.