War is a frequent theme of Shakespeare’s writing: from dramatic depictions of campaigns and battles, to the soldiers who serve as major and minor characters in many of his plays.
Since they were first performed, Shakespeare’s works have taken on even greater meaning when Britain has been involved in conflict. They have inspired soldiers and civilians alike, helping people face adversity on the battlefield and at home.
They have been used to rally the nation at times of crisis and to reflect on the human cost of conflict. But they have also been used to critique war and to consider the more challenging aspects of the military experience.
Drawing on objects and records from the Civil Wars to the present day, the exhibition explores how Shakespeare’s famous plays have shaped attitudes both past and present.
Shakespeare and War has been curated in partnership with Dr Amy Lidster (Jesus College, University of Oxford) and Professor Sonia Massai (King’s College London). It draws on their edited collection 'Shakespeare at War: A Material History', recently published by Cambridge University Press.