The Thrill of Shakespeare


February 1, 2012

Kate Pogue is a frequent lecturer and a world authority on Shakespeare’s private life. Her books “Shakespeare’s Friends” and “Shakespeare’s Family” offer a fascinating perspective on the Bard’s private life. We visited with her to hear about her upcoming class. 

WIH Reporter: What do we need to know about your latest Shakespeare class? 

Pogue: Our ongoing class “Shakespeare’s Great Speeches” turns to Shakespeare’s history plays. At the risk of making our own election-year oratory sound pitiful in comparison, we are going to experience the most thrilling and inspiring examples of Shakespeare’s rhetorical writing. We will follow King Henry V “once more into the breach” and glory with him as we band of brothers (and sisters!) go with him into the battle of St. Crispin’s day. We’ll sit on the ground with Richard II and “tell sad stories of the death of kings” and thrill with John of Gaunt to visions of “this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

WIH Reporter: What films will you be showing? 

Pogue: Filmed performances of these speeches will feature Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Branagh, and Derek Jacobi. Before enjoying them, we will work our way through the speeches in class, discovering as we read aloud the enormous power of Shakespearean language.



WIH Reporter: It appears that the works of Shakespeare continue to exert a commentary on our own time.


Pogue: Shakespeare continues to be relevant to our world and time, and as an inspiration to other works of literature. Studying his works is a constant and rewarding adventure.


WIH Reporter: What  have you discovered during your classes at the Women’s Institute?


Pogue: The students at the Women’s Institute are so intellectually curious, and so well-read that the discussion of related books is a constant subject, occurring before, during, and in-between classes. 


WIH Reporter: What books are currently on your night table?


Pogue: At this time, on my bedside table are the following books: Roderick Graham’s “The Life of Mary, Queen of Scots”; Eleanor Brown’s “The Weird Sisters“; Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything”; Alice Kaplan’s “French Lessons”; James Woods’ “How Fiction Works“, and “Misia” by Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale. 


WIH Reporter: What lies ahead for you?


Pogue: I am looking forward this Spring to finishing and finding a publisher for my newest book on Shakespeare titled, “Shakespeare’s Education: How Shakespeare Learned to Write His Plays”. 


Kate Pogue’s Shakespeare class, “Shakespeare’s Great Speeches: The History Plays,” starts on February 2, 2012, on Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. For more information about this class, click here.