A special relationship

  • 1776: Revolutionary war

    Shakespeare became popular in the US in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, which means that the English playwright was embraced by Americans even as their hatred for the overbearing English crown was deepening.

    Though relationships between the two nations has had its ups and downs, American affection for the author has not faltered since.

  • 1865: Abe Lincoln

    Cruising on the Potomac, President Lincoln entertained his guests by reading from Shakespeare, taking particular enjoyment in Macbeth's soliloquy after the murder of Duncan.

    Just days later he would be murdered, but a special regard for Shakespeare would live on in America.

  • 1913: Liberty Head Nickel

    In the same year that the Liberty Head Nickel was produced (one of the rarest and sought after American coins), the Stratford Players went on a celebrated 25 city tour of the United States.

    Performing a repertoire of 14 plays across the country from Buffalo to San Diego and Seattle to Atlanta, the company deepened the bond between Americans and the RSC, well before the name was adopted.

  • 1932: J.D. Rockerfeller

    '...in recognition of the debt Great Britain and the United States in common owe to Shakespeare for all that he has meant to the millions of people whose lives have been enriched and inspired by his genius.'

    John D. Rockefeller Jr., on pledging generous support to help build the 1932 Royal Shakespeare Theatre

  • 1961: John F. Kennedy

    At a festive evening of Shakespeare scenes at The White House, President Kennedy affectionately referred to "The American playwright Shakespeare".

    He had a habit of quoting Henry V's St. Crispin's Day Speech and is himself remembered for saying:

    'When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.'

  • 2013: Centenary

    Nearly 100 years ago, the RSC traveled on its first tour to the United States of America and the RSC continues to enjoy the consistent warmth and extraordinary generosity that the Americans have shown to the company since that first tour in 1913. 

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Teaching Shakespeare