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Oct 31 2019 - 09:24 AM
Today in History: The Tempest Is First Performed

"These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air,

And, like the baseless fabric of vision,

The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with sleep."

- William Shakespeare, The Tempest, 4.1

Did you know that Shakespeare's The Tempest was performed for the first time before King James on November 1st, 1611, otherwise known as "Hallowmas Nyght" at Banqueting House in the Whitehall Palace? Or that two years later it was performed at court in honor of the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Frederick, the Elector Palatine of Bohemia? While the Globe Theater in London opened in 1599, and was most associated with William Shakespeare, The Bard's arguably most beloved work was certainly drama fit for royalty, and has since been loved by wider audiences in theaters throughout the world, still to this day.

Believed to be one of Shakespeare's last plays, The Tempest is a comedy set on a distant island once ruled by the witch Sycorax, but now inhabited by Caliban, her son, and Ariel, a spirit. The play explores the complex themes of betrayal, revenge, ill treatment, magic, love, theater, and even playwriting -- through the rich, captivating characters of Prospero, the deposed, bookish Duke of Milan; his young, innocent daughter, Miranda; the handsome Ferdinand, prince of Naples; and a cast of other highly colorful, imaginative figures.

The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.


Read more about the stage history of The Tempest, via the Royal Shakespeare Company.


  • Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban, detail of "The Tempest", a painting by Johann Heinrich Ramberg, Wikimedia Commons
  • Special New Slide Courtesy of EdLab Studios


Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check the news postings on Learning at the Library, where you can delve into history.

Posted in: Learning at the LibraryNews Cafe|By: Jennifer Govan|655 Reads