The Big Shakespeare Quiz

1. If Shakespeare were alive today, which birthday would we be celebrating?

2. In one of the best known Shakespeare scenes, Hamlet says the famous line “Alas, poor Yorrick, I knew him.” But what is Yorrick said to have done for Hamlet 1,000 times?

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3. In which Shakespeare play does the entire first scene take place on a ship at sea?

4. The theme of poison comes up quite regularly in Shakespeare’s work, and is used for both good and bad purposes. It’s most notable appearance is in Romeo & Juliet, but in which play is poison the agent of death of someone’s father?

5. For bonus points, what was the poison called?

6. In Macbeth, what is the event that causes Macbeth to say the famous quote “Out, Out, Brief Candle”?

7. A prolific playright, Shakespeare is believed to have written 154 sonnets, 2 long poems and various other writings. But – alone or otherwise – how many plays is the great bard said to have written?

8. Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play. Which play is said to be his second longest?

9. As his longest play, how many words does Hamlet consist of?

10. Kings are a staple character in many of his plays, but In which Shakespeare play does the story centre around a king and his three daughters?

11. The well-known saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” is often wrongly attributed to Shakespeare. In fact, it was first used by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. In which Shakespeare play does an early form of the phrase “… many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills” appear?

12. How old was William Shakespeare when he died in 1616?

13. In the play Hamlet, the character Ophelia, in her descent into madness, hands out flowers. She gives Rosemary and Pansies to Laertes, for remembrance and thoughts and Rue to Queen Gertrude, Rue is the symbol of bitterness that represented adultery. But which flower did she pick up and set down without giving to anyone?

14. Also in the play Hamlet, to what did Hamlet himself instruct a player hold a mirror up to, in reference to the moral function of theatre?

15. In which Shakespeare play will we find the line “Here is the cap your worship did bespeak”?

16. Wrexham sadly didn’t feature in any of Shakespeare’s works. But which North Wales castle – pictured here in a painting by J M W Turner – gets an appearance in the play Richard II?

17. For bonus points, how much did the painting sell for in 2010?

18. Romeo and Juliet is without doubt one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays of all time. In which year was it first published?

19. In Franco Zefirelli’s  Academy Award-winning 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, which British actress played the role of Juliet?

20. It is widely rumoured that Shakespeare wrote the play King Lear whilst in Lockdown because of the plague. For a total of how many months was Shakespeare’s globe theatre shut down Between 1603 and 1613?

21. Sticking to the topic of lockdown, Singer James Blunt has recently released a new video for his song “The Greatest” in tribute to the NHS. In which Shakespeare play can we find a character who shares the singer’s name?

22.  In which of Shakespeare’s plays will we find the famous line “All the world’s a stage”?

23. Members of the clergy appear in many of Shakespeare’s plays, however they are often Roman Catholic representatives such as Cardinal Pandulph in King John, But in which play does the cast include the strawberry growing Anglican the Bishop of Ely?

24. In 1981, which British Rock band released the iconic song entitled Romeo & Juliet?

25. In which Shakespeare play do we encounter the famous line “Neither a borrower nor a lender be…” 

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Over to you… complete the following phrase in your own words:

“A borrower nor a lender be. Nor for that matter…”

Quiz researched and prepared by J.Allan Longshadow for Wrexham Carnival of Words 2020 Virtual Litfest. Please feel free to reuse with attribution in the classroom or for any other use.



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