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The way we were: Shakespeare: loved and loathed

Extracts from memoirs and diaries

By Ian Irvine   April 2016

©Robert Harding/Rex/Shutterstock

The 23rd of April marks 400 years since William Shakespeare died.

In 1725, Alexander Pope writes: “It must be own’d that with all these great excellencies, he has almost as great defects; and that as he has certainly written better, so he has perhaps written worse, than any other.”

In 1728, while in exile in London, Voltaire comments: “[Hamlet] is a rude and barbarous piece… Hamlet, his mother, and his stepfather drink together on the stage; they sing at table, they wrangle, they fight, they kill; one…

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