Shakespeare: Ten Great Plays

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William Shakespeare, Tyrone Guthrie, and Alice and Martin Provensen. Shakespeare: Ten Great Plays. New York: Golden Press, 1962. 

Image source: University of Oregon Rare Books Collection


An eye-catching depiction of Hamlet and Laertes’s duel.

Children’s editions of Shakespeare have often meant beautifully illustrated volumes, designed to capture children’s imaginations and fancy. This collection is illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen, known for their work depicting myths and fairy tales as well as classic works of literature. Their elongated Shakespearean characters tower over the text. The illustrations convey a wide range of Shakespearean tones to readers, from comical to menacing. The interest and sophistication of the illustrations meant that the text could be marketed to adult readers as well, as the publisher, Golden Press, expanded its “Little Golden Books” line by publishing books for families as well as children. Left: Hamlet and Laertes dominate the court while dueling.


Malcolm’s besieging army, looking festive with trumpets, pennants, and branches from Birnam Wood, unsettles Macbeth.

The Provensens play with scale and perspective in depicting warrior-turned-tyrant Macbeth under siege. Macbeth is dismayed to find a witches’ riddle embodied in a besieging army disguised as a forest.

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Shakespeare: Ten Great Plays