Was Hamlet a Woman? Yes and No…

Interesting Literature

At the moment, Maxine Peake is playing Hamlet at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. The promotional blurb for the production on the Royal Exchange website states that Peake ‘creates a Hamlet for now, a Hamlet for Manchester’. But a woman playing Hamlet is, actually, nothing new. Numerous women have played the part in the past, with each generation offering new interpretations of the idea of a female Hamlet. Indeed, Tony Howard, a professor at the University of Warwick, has even written a book on the subject (which we’d highly recommend). Howard has stated that the two best Hamlet performances he has ever seen were with a woman in the title role.

The first known instance of a woman playing Hamlet was when Charlotte Charke, who lived from 1713 until 1760, played the Prince of Denmark. Charke was the twelfth child of the Poet Laureate Colley Cibber; she became…

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