Shakespeare has inspired writers and poets like no other author over the centuries. Here are 20 great quotes about Shakespeare from the world’s top creative minds, past and present:

1. Ralph Waldo Emerson

“He breathed upon dead bodies and brought them into life. Nor sequent centuries could hit Orbit and sum of Shakespeare’s wit.”

2. T. S. Eliot

“We can say of Shakespeare, that never has a man turned so little knowledge to such great account.”

3. Orson Welles

“Now we sit through Shakespeare in order to recognize the quotations.”

4. Cole Porter

“Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”

5. D. H. Lawrence

“When I read Shakespeare I am struck with wonder that such trivial people should muse and thunder in such lovely language.”

6. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“Our myriad-minded Shakespeare.”

7. Ben Jonson

“Sweet Swan of Avon!”

“My Shakespeare, rise! I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
A little further, to make thee a room.”

“A quibble is to Shakespeare what luminous vapours are to the traveller: he follows it at all adventures; it is sure to lead him out of his way and sure to engulf him in the mire.”

“He was not of an age, but for all time!”

“Thou hadst small Latin and less Greek.”

8. Robert Graves

“The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good – in spite of all the people who say he is very good.”

9. Brendan Behan

“Shakespeare said pretty well everything and what he left out, James Joyce, with a judge from meself, put in.”

10. Thomas Carlyle

“If I say that Shakespeare is the greatest of intellects, I have said all concerning him. But there is more in Shakespeare’s intellect than we have yet seen. It is what I call an unconscious intellect; there is more virtue in it that he himself is aware of.”

11. William Hazlitt

“If we wish to know the force of human genius we should read Shakespeare. If we wish to see the insignificance of human learning we may study his commentators.”

12. George Bernard Shaw

“Hamlet’s experience simply could not have happened to a plumber.”

13. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“There Shakespeare, on whose forehead climb
The crowns o’ the world; oh, eyes sublime
With tears and laughter for all time!”

14. John Dryden

“He was the man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul.
But Shakespeare’s magic could not copied be; Within that circle none durst walk but he.

He was naturally learned; he needed not the spectacles of books to read nature. He looked inwards, and found her there.”

15. John Milton

“Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy’s child,
Warble his native wood-notes wild.
What needs my Shakespeare for his honour’d bones,
The labour of an age in piled stones,
Or that his hallow’d relics should be hid
Under a star-y-pointing pyramid?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,
What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name?
And so sepulchered in such pomp dost lie,
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.”

16. Thomas More

“And one wild Shakespeare, following Nature’s lights,
Is worth whole planets, filled with Stagyrites.”

17. Laurence Olivier

“Shakespeare – The nearest thing in incarnation to the eye of God.”

18. Dame Ellen Terry

“Wonderful women! Have you ever thought how much we all, and women especially, owe to Shakespeare for his vindication of women in these fearless, high-spirited, resolute and intelligent heroines?”

19. Horace Walpole

“One of the greatest geniuses that ever existed,
Shakespeare, undoubtedly wanted taste.”

20. William Wordsworth

“Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key

Shakespeare unlocked his heart.”

See some Shakespeare inspired novel titles >>

Ben Jonson, originator of the

Ben Jonson, originator of the “Swan of Avon” quote about Shakespeare

10 replies
  1. David Teems
    David Teems says:

    My favorite quote is #8. He seems to have the clearer grasp of Shakespeare. You may want to reconsider #16. Thomas More died in 1535. For him to have quoted Shakespeare the math doesn’t work.

  2. Rita Orton
    Rita Orton says:

    Of the 50 most important words of Shakespeare who I must admit have not read any of his plays is The quality of Mercy is not strained ………I was surprised to see it wasn’t listed . It is a verse I truly love ❤️


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