Was Shakespeare actually a secret Catholic?


On the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, scholars parse his life and work to find clues suggesting he was sympathetic to the Church of Rome in an era of religious persecution in England.



If I ever make it to D.C., the very first place I’m going is the Folger Library. I’ve wanted to go there for many, many years.

That article wouldn’t completely load for me, by the way, although a good portrait did appear, which would make a nice wallpaper.


It would probably be hard to say one way or the other, since we know so little about him.


Here’s a similar article: churchpop.com/2016/04/24/shakespeare-secretly-catholic/ Actually, I think it’s the same one. :smiley:

My opinion on this is, we simply don’t know enough about him. Heck, we don’t even know who “Shakespeare” really was! There are at least three top contenders for the name “Shakespeare” (NPR did a report on this, it was fascinating).

My point is, Shakespeare as we know him can be interpreted as however we want him to be. Granted, there’s some good evidence of Catholicism, in his life and in his plays, but making Hamlet Catholic (see the article I linked) makes me raise an eyebrow. Also, the use of “obviously” and “clearly” seems much too strong for such a vague historical persona.

I pray that he was, simply because that would be awesome! But was he really? God (literally) only knows. :thumbsup:


Years ago, when my son was in college, he wrote a paper on the doctrinal precepts in MacBeth. He did a pretty good job of showing that the moral precepts manifested in the play were actually Catholic, not Elizabethan protestant. His thesis was that either Shakespeare was Catholic or he wasn’t, but either way, the consciousness of the public, his viewers, had changed very little from the break from the Church, and was tolerated in that kind of venue.

Personally, I’m inclined to think Shakespeare was Catholic.


Stratford could probably tell you his inside leg measurement, his father gained his wealth by shady sheep trading and subsequent tax evasion. This explains Will’s education. It’s irrelevant whether he was catholic or not.


More appropriately would be to ask
“What did Shakespeare DO for the
Catholics in his plays?”


there has been speculation about this the past 5-6 years. someone even wrote a book about this claim.
I haven’t read enough of Shakespeare’s works to be able to judge one way or the other. he could have been.


I hope so. Shakespeare for the win!


IMO his famous line “The first thing we should do, is kill all the lawyers” is the agreed upon solution to so many wrongs today!


His Catholicism comes through in parts of his plays. Hamlet and Richard II off hand.


Biographer Joseph Pearce has written books on this very subject…

Recommended reading: The Quest for Shakespeare.



Also by Pearce:

Through Shakespeare’s Eyes



Shakespeare on Love: Seeing the Catholic Presence in Romeo and Juliet



Shadow play by Clare Asquith explores the Catholic themes in many of Shakespeare’s plays.


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