On April 24th, the Department of English, University of Hyderabad celebrated the birthday of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), arguably the most famous writer in the English language. Shakespeare’s birthday (April 23rd) is also known as “World Book Day” and is celebrated to promote books and reading. The online event, attended by students, research scholars, faculty members, friends, and alumni of the department, witnessed readings and discussions on Shakespeare’s plays and poetry. The participants read their favourite extracts from Shakespeare while discussing their significance to our lives and times.

The head of the department, Prof. Anna Kurian, also a Shakespeare scholar, presided over the meeting and moderated the session. The participants were Ishanee Sarmah, Moumita Chowdhury, Prateeti Chowdhury, Sourav Jatua, and Atul V. Nair – all PhD students at the department. Atul read from King Lear and Macbeth, Ishanee from King John, Moumita from As You Like It, Prateeti from Henry IV, Part I and Henry VI, Part II, and Sourav from the Sonnets. They also reflected on the relevance of Shakespeare’s works in making sense of and finding peace during the current pandemic. The faculty and the audience also came up with their own favourites from Shakespeare and added to the conversation. Sayantan Lahiri, an MA student, read a sonnet, while Maria Duckworth, an alumnus of the department, read from Macbeth. Prof. Kurian read from King Lear, while Prof. Pramod K. Nayar and Prof. Saradindu Bhattacharya spoke about comic adaptations of Shakespeare like the Asterix series and the BBC sitcom Upstart Crow. The event was evidence of the fact that Shakespeare brings together people of all ages and from all walks of life across generations through his simple yet profound thoughts on life and its many challenges. While he speaks of loss and suffering, he also gives hope for a better tomorrow. The meeting concluded hoping for a world free of the pandemic – like the title of a Shakespearean play – “All’s Well that Ends Well!”

Text: Atul V. Nair (PhD, English)

Picture credits: Soumya Sharma (MA, Communication)