31 December 2014

Shakespeare: the Bookshop Top Ten 2014

Posted by John Clegg

In the tradition which has been called 'without question, the most important critical project in Shakespeare studies today' (Professor E.G.C. Kipling) and 'an astonishingly accurate barometer of Shakespeare's contemporary reputation - a bardometer, if you will' (Professor K.P. Nutt), we present for the second year the league table of the bestselling Shakespeare plays in the shop. Only Arden editions are counted, to make things a bit fairer.

In joint fourth place: Much Ado About Nothing, and King Henry IV Part I.

In joint third place: Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra.

In second place: King Lear.

And in an astonishing turn-up for the books, the first year it has so much as troubled the top table: this year's top spot goes to ropey gore-fest Titus Andronicus.

Some early thoughts on these results: firstly, it's good to see King Lear in second place. Our 2012 winner, the play had unaccountably vanished from last year's top ten. Maybe 2015 will be the year it reclaims its title. A Midsummer Night's Dream and Antony and Cleopatra both keep to their reliable haunts in the middle of the league, but they'll need to up their game if they want to be seen as in contention for the top spot next year. Hamlet seems to be consistently underperforming, rising from a dire fifth place in 2013 to a still-mediocre third. But perhaps being pipped to the post this year by such a critical dud will be enough to provoke the Dane into the league-beating performance we all know he's capable of: feeling, perhaps, with Titus Andronicus, that 'Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand, / Blood and revenge are hammering in my head'. See you next year.