“What prompted Shakespeare to choose a particular name for a character?  Did names hold particular resonances for his actors and audiences that may be lost to us today?  This wonderful resource explores possible reasons for his choices, reasons that will inform and enlighten actor and audiences alike.”

Patrick Spottiswoode, Director, Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Globe.


Bruce Alexander has identified an unexpected gap in Shakespeare scholarship, and given us a treasure trove of information, which makes for a fascinating read - and an invaluable reference. It's always a joy to spot clues which Shakespeare has given us for free - his plays come without much in the way of stage directions, but masses of pointers buried in the language and - it turns out - in the names of his dramatis personae. It's all there for us to explore, and Alexander, with his wealth of experience as actor and scholar, is the perfect guide.”

Christopher Luscombe, Director, Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare's Globe


“In this informative and often witty compilation, actor-scholar Bruce Alexander explores a vast and fascinating array of names and social types.  Some entries provide a wealth of historical detail. Some fill in elements from social history.  Others provide comic relief or diverse bits of lore or surprises. Even as a non-actor I can see how some items could stimulate the imagination of someone taking on a role.  The wealth of material here will be of interest to any reader or playgoer.”

Alan Dessen, Professor Emeritus of English, University of North Carolina


A most original venture and such a tasty thing to have at one's elbow.  I discovered lots of stuff I didn't know and some that I had forgotten.  The opening contextualising essays are most helpful and I shall be returning to all the book on many occasions I'm sure."

Giles Block, Globe Associate, Text.