The book, Botanical Shakespeare, is a delightful compendium of every mention of plants across all of Shakespeare’s works. Physically, it’s a lovely book, an old style hardback with a silk ribbon and pretty color illustrations. Inside, it’s even more engaging, as author Gerit Quealy alphabetically collects the bard’s poetic lines on everything from aconitum to yew.
A Cozy Friend
It’s the kind of sweet, relaxing book a gardening geek can read before bed or on a rainy day. One can skip around from plant to plant, discovering how cherries appeared often in A Midsummer Night’s Dream or pepper in Henry IV. And the illustrations are handy for those who are less familiar with plants. Even a horticulturalist like I appreciated knowing what nutmeg looks like.
Speaking of that, there’s also a handy glossary of sorts in the back, which describes the legends and lore associated with the plant and its other common names. For instance, dewberries looked like blackberries to me and this glossary helpfully distinguished the two. Of course, that led me to wonder about botanical names. The book doesn’t include Latin names but seeing how we’re dealing with 16th century references, it would be perhaps difficult to nail down exact species.
But that’s a small point and readers won’t need Latin names to enjoy this elegant and colorful book. I highly recommend it to those interested in Shakespeare, plants, poetry, or lovely botanical illustrations. It will inspire you.