Shakespeare’s BeehiveShakespeare’s Beehive

On the evening of April 29, 2008,
a bid was placed on eBay for John Baret’s Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionarie,
printed in London in the year 1580.

This is the story of how two antiquarian booksellers would acquire that particular copy and conclude that it is William Shakespeare’s own personal dictionary.

Prologue

Introduction to Shakespeare's Beehive

How does one constantly go about finding language that offers fresh ways of depicting characters constrained by the same basic human motivations, circling similar dramatic situations, while playing out their various impulses and desires? No writer ever concerned himself less with the strain of having to do so, nor delighted in the conceit of challenging himself to accomplish more under that principle, than did Shakespeare. As such, Baret’s Alvearie was for him the perfect tool, a honey-combed beehive of possibilities that may not have formed his way of thinking, but certainly fed his appetite and nourished his selection.

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Publication

by George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler

In a newly published study, Shakespeare’s Beehive: An Annotated Elizabethan Dictionary Comes to Light, antiquarian booksellers George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler conclude that the annotations in their copy of Baret’s Alvearie purchased on eBay belong to William Shakespeare. Using example after example, the authors demonstrate how closely the annotations and Baret’s text are tied to Shakespeare’s own work. The annotator, while not once leaving his name on a page, nevertheless leaves behind an astonishing personal trail of fingerprints.

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Baret’s Alvearie

The Complete Dictionary with Annotations

Every page of the annotated copy of Baret’s Alvearie is available for viewing to registered members of the Shakespeare’s Beehive community. A sampling of the different types of annotations is provided and defined, along with explanations as to where and how the annotator uses them. A complete list of the recorded annotations is provided to facilitate the studying of the images for both scholars and the general public. The hope is that this will lead to a wider appreciation of Baret’s Alvearie as a Shakespeare sourcebook, and, by enriching the debate, help to establish our conclusion that this particular copy was the one that Shakespeare likely owned and used.

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Shakespeare’s Beehive

George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler’s extraordinary account of their acquisition and subsequent research into an annotated Elizabethan dictionary published in London in 1580. Read More

Available in Limited Edition

Hardcover and E-Book formats

Shakespeare’s Beehive
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Authors

George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler have independently both spent more than two decades working with rare books.

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