If it wasn’t for Shakespeare, book titles

This April 23 will mark the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare. At least this is the day we celebrate it. No one really knows what day he was born on. We do know he was christened on April 26 and in the Elizabethan period, christenings happened 3 days after birth so it’s a fair assumption.

I thought it would be fun to devote this month’s blogs to all things Shakespeare. And why not? For he hath bequeathed us many fine gifts. The renowned Shakespeare critic Harold Bloom believes Shakespeare invented what it means to be human, and Professor Stephen Marche lectures on how Shakespeare changed everything. Though I am not sure I would go this far, I do believe the world is a better place thanks to the Bard. So the theme this month is “If it wasn’t for Shakespeare”….

Now and again authors will throw in a line or two from one of Shakespeare’s plays. I even heard a bastardized version of “Once more unto the breaches” last night on a Game of Thrones episode. Most of time the lines are included to make a point. I have a sneaky suspicion some authors throw the line in to see if the reader is paying attention and tries to pass the line off as a nod to the intellects. Hey, did he just quote Shakespeare? Wow, he’s my kind of writer!

Other times authors use Shakespeare’s words to introduce their work. At times the intro can be a way of explaining what the book is about, while other times it may just be a line the author really likes. It may not be a key to success, it is interesting to note that several bestselling books have catchy titles thanks to Shakespeare. So I offer you the first of “If it wasn’t for Shakespeare”


 If it wasn’t for Shakespeare we wouldn’t have these awesome book titles.

 1The Moon Is Down, John Steinbeck
2. Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers
3. Under the Greenwood Tree, Thomas Hardy
4 And Be a Villain, Rex Stout
5 Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
6 Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov
7 Band of Brothers, Stephen Ambrose
8 The Dogs of War, Frederick Forsyth
9 There is a Tide, Agatha Christie
10 By the Pricking of My Thumbs, Agatha Chrstie
11 Not in Our Stars, M. M. Marshall
12 Chimes at Midnight, Terence White
13 The Mousetrap, Agatha Christie
14 Twice-Told Tales, Nathaniel Hawthorne
15 A Muse of Fire, A.D. Harvey
16 Strange Snow, Steve Metcalfe
17 Walk the Night, Robert C. Reinhart
18 A Plague on Both Your Houses, Robert. W. Whitaker
19 The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
20. Leave her to Heaven, Ben Ames Williams
21 Time out of Joint, Phillip K Dick
22. What Dreams May Come, Richard Matheson
22. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
23. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett

Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

7 thoughts on “If it wasn’t for Shakespeare, book titles”

  1. Having written a story on my blog in which each chapter of part II contained at least two Shakespeare quotations from “The Merchant of Venice,” and each chapter title was also a quotation from the same, I’m happy to acknowledge my debt to the Bard.


  2. I’ll be posting a review of one of Michael Clynes’ historical whodunits soon, and I see that another title in the same series is called The Poisoned Chalice. At first I thought this common phrase was literary licence for Gertrude’s “The drink, the drink! I am poison’d” in Hamlet. But I’d forgotten “our poison’d chalice” in Macbeth. Another title to add to your list?

    And I’m sure there must be parodies…


    1. Ahh, the parodies. Now this would be fun to research. The list is very long. I was surprised to find so many. I am sure I have left out some good ones.


  3. Great post – I bet there are tons of titles based on Shakespeare! How about The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) and Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) 🙂


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