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Program in British Studies

‘Shakespeare and Home Front during World War II’


Fri, October 7, 2011 | Tom Lea Rooms, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center 3.206

2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

The British Shakespearean actor Donald Wolfit’s wartime King Lear is widely acknowledged as his crowning achievement.  But little attention has been paid to the value of the production as propaganda during the war.  By drawing on the Wolfit archive at the Harry Ransom Center, this illustrated presentation will show how Wolfit’s Lear deliberately evoked Winston Churchill’s view that Britain should look to its illustrious past as a way of coping with the present.  Wolfit’s production looked forward to the post-war future, envisaging a more egalitarian society free of the kind of class conflicts that had bedeviled Britain in the years leading up to the outbreak of war.


Laurence Raw teaches in the Department of English at Baskent University, Ankara, Turkey.  He was formerly British Studies Officer for the East and Central European Regions of the British Council.  He is the author Exploring Turkish Cultures (2011), and A View of the Turkish Stage (2009).

Sponsored by: Faculty Seminar on British Studies

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