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Shakespeare & Beyond

May the Force Be With You: William Shakespeare's Star Wars

Luke Skywalker strikes an iconic Hamlet pose in this illustration from the William Shakespeare's Star Wars series. Credit Nicolas Delort.

Luke Skywalker strikes an iconic Hamlet pose in this illustration from the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series. Credit Nicolas Delort. Courtesy Quirk Books.

Shakespeare and Star Wars would appear to have very little in common. Or at least they did, until a guy named Ian Doescher saw the potential in combining the two. The first book in his William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series, Verily, A New Hope, became such a sensation after it was published by Quirk Books in 2013 that it was soon followed by such titles as The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return.

The concept: The Star Wars movies rewritten as if they were Shakespeare plays, iambic pentameter and all. For example, the iconic scrolling words from the opening of the first Star Wars movie become this Shakespearean sonnet:

It is a period of civil war,

The spaceships of the rebels striking swift

from bases unseen have gained a victory o’er

the cruel galactic empire now adrift.

Amidst the battle, rebel spies prevailed

and stole the plans to a space station vast

whose powerful beams will later be unveiled

and crush a planet, ‘tis the Death Star blast.

Pursued by agents sinister and cold,

now princess Leia to her home doth flee,

delivering plans and a new hope they hold

of bringing freedom to the galaxy.

In times so long ago, begins our play,

in star-crossed galaxy far, far away.


To mark the publication of his latest book, Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge, Doescher sat down with Stephanie Kaye to discuss how it all began for this episode of Shakespeare Unlimited. (Skip to 15:28 if you want to hear Doescher’s Yoda impression.)

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Jo Procter — December 2, 2015