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Review: Inspired by Shakespeare

We gave George Asbury (14) a sneak peek of the BSA’s Inspired by Shakespeare , a volume of creative writing edited and professionally designed by UCLan Publishing students which will be launched at the BSA Hull conference in September. From that point on, it will be available to all BSA members via the website. George is about to start Year 11 at St John Fisher School, Harrogate. He enjoys crime fiction, music, football and table tennis. He hopes to study English at university and to become a sports journalist. 


Inspired by Shakespeare, an anthology of creativity inspired by Shakespeare’s works, does a wonderful job of inspiring young Shakespeare fans to go out and get writing. A combined effort from the British Shakespeare Association’s Teaching Shakespeare and UCLan Publishing this anthology celebrates Shakespeare and is a great resource for budding writers and artists.

This special edition anthology commemorates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with a collection of creative pieces – poems, prose and pictures – inspired by his works. The first half presents work from winners of the Inspired by Shakespeare competition, open to all, and the second from student competition winners.

Although the quality of the creative work in this anthology is great throughout, for me one piece shone, A Sad Tale’s Best for Winter by Margaret Challender. Challender’s poem flows beautifully and tells its tale vividly.   Each of the four stanzas represents a month of winter and the emotions it evokes, from preparation for a long winter “Lay your head down here next to mine; And tell me a tale for winter” through to a time when we have grown accustomed to dark nights and are reluctant to move on “Keep talking.  Don’t spare my unwilling ears”.

If there is one criticism to be made it is that the Student Winners section lacked variety in terms of genre – maybe a missed opportunity to address in future competitions?  While the first half of the anthology benefited from prose and art as well as poetry, the student section had only poems.

Overall though, the anthology has been a great success. My special praise goes to Margaret Challender for her excellent work, and the British Shakespeare Association for creating this book.

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