“I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another.”

Ken AshfordHistoryLeave a Comment

"Hamlet", Act 3 scene 1

We all know what Shakespeare looked like.  Or at least, we think we know.

It's this guy:


But guess what?  Probably not.

The above engraving was by Martin Droeshout.  It appeared with the First Folio, the collection of Shakespeare's work that was published in 1623, seven years after the Bard's death.  In other words, Shakespeare didn't pose for this.  Like most engravings of the time, the engraving was probably based on something else (another engraving, a painting, etc.).  It may even be a third generation representation of Shakespeare.

So what did Shakespeare really look like?  Scholars have tried — and failed — to unanimously find a contemporaneous portrait.

But maybe we have a winner, as of today:

Professor Stanley Wells, Chairman of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and one of the world’s leading experts on Shakespearian studies, has announced the discovery of a portrait of William Shakespeare, which he believes is almost certainly the only authentic image of Shakespeare made from life.

So without much further ado (about nothing?), here is (perhaps) the real Shakespeare:


I think he and Virginia Woolf are related:


Then again, I look like Hugh Jackman, so….

But I digress.