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Quiz about The Shakespeare Diaries
Quiz about The Shakespeare Diaries

The Shakespeare Diaries Trivia Quiz


In a tea chest in an ancient cottage, the diaries of William Shakespeare were recently discovered. I was tasked to translate them into modern English. The entries are rather oblique, but they all point to works by, or about, the great man.

A multiple-choice quiz by darksplash. Estimated time: 7 mins.
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Author
darksplash
Time
7 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
314,227
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
8 / 10
Plays
2715
Awards
Editor's Choice
Last 3 plays: Montgomery1 (8/10), pwefc (8/10), boon99 (6/10).
Question 1 of 10
1. First of September 1592
"Dear diary,
I had not looked forward to the family obligations that dragged me back to Stratford. Still, I confess it was a better day than I had feared. Had lunch with Anne, went to the zoo, and oh by the way wrote a rhyme of lovers two.
A good day, la, la, la
And so to bed."

Ah that's cryptic, but I've worked out the erotic poems that Will referred to. Which of these was it?
Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. Sixteenth of October 5933
"Dear diary
Oh I could swing for that Christopher Marlowe! We had a hard day on the stage today and I showed him my latest drama. He laughed - laughed I tell you! - at the stage direction at the end of Act One. Curse the man, I see nothing wrong with 'Exit, pursued by bear.'
A poor day, fa, fa, fa
And so to bed."

I'm not surprised, critics have hated that stage direction ever since. In which of these plays did it appear?
Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Twelfth of November 1605
"Dear Diary,
I am so excited! Today I was walking to the theatre when, by chance, I saw three women being soundly abused and stoned by an angry crowd. 'Witch, witch, witch', I heard them yell. And it gave me such an idea that I took a new quill - damnation to the expense! - and dashed off a new play tonight and cast three witches at its centre. Oh, it will be one of my greatest ever!
A good day, tra, la, la
And so to bed."

I always thought that suspected witches were drowned rather than stoned, still, Will was right, it did become one of his greatest plays. But it was one that so many actors dreaded to name - and nor will I. By what title did they refer to it instead?
Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Twenty-fourth of December 1591
"Dear Diary,
Ah, now is the winter of my discontent. It was cold tonight as I sat in my ordinary over supper - mutton once again (and a scandalous halfpenny for it!) but served by a comely wench. I was ruminating over a sound bite and as I heard others talk of the horse fair, it came to me 'My Kingdom For A Horse'. I will certainly use that in my newest play!
A merry day, ho, ho ho
And so to bed."

And a fine sound bite it turned out to be. In which of these plays did it feature?
Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. Twenty-fourth of June 1616
"Dear Diary,
How dare he! How dare they! Curses be on those who claim that it was not I who has written so many of the presentations that daily play to the crowded houses of the populace of this - surely the world's - capital. They say that schemer, with his funny handshakes and his worship of the devil, should be named author! What can he do: A New Atlantis indeed, pa - what poppycock. More rights for women! An abolition of slavery! Never shall they happen, never I say!
A seething day, fa, fa, fa
And so to bed."

That was a bit of a rant and I really had to work hard to translate it: all those double fs made my head spin - no wonder highfells wouldn't write this quiz himself. Just who was the target of this particular bit of bile?
Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. Twentieth of March 1594
"Dear Diary,
Happy birthday to me! 30 years old today. And what does it mean: a few less hairs, a need for chairs, a dread of hearing fortunes told. Anne, my wife, would have me back at home in Stratford, but London is where I am alive. Alive!
Today we began rehearsals on my newest play and little could I take my eyes of the boy cast in the lead woman's role. Fair and dainty he was. He makes a comely figure for a happy woman of that great town in the shadows of the castle west of this city.
A happy day, lo, lo, lo
And so to bed."

Feeling my way through this entry, this can only refer to one play. Which of these was it?
Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Second of June 1591
"Dear Diary,
A frustrating day at The Globe! Those wretched woodworkers could not get that balcony right as we rehearsed my new tale of star-crossed lovers. And the cost of horse's hair for the wig of the fair lady, 22 shillings! I would have expected the whole horse for that! Wherefore could I get it cheaper?, I did plea. Nowhere, was the reply. And don't talk to me about roses! A rose at any other price would be just as dear! How can I make money when everything costs so much?
An angry day, moan, moan, moan
And so to bed."

This entry can only refer to one play. Which of these?
Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. Twelfth of August 1599
"Dear Diary,
Marlowe was at his most waspish today. It amazes me that a man of such feeble temper should get a start in this world. He must be jealous. The whole company turned critic in finding fault with my new play. When Marlowe joined in - that was the unkindest cut of all - I could only retort 'you too, Kit'?, which rendered the little spy - unusually - speechless. Still, I am well pleased that Tom North's translation from the Greek was a firm platform for a play that will be hailed long after my life has run its compass.
A fine day, pom, pom, pom
And so to bed."

I wonder, was this life imitating art? Did Shakespeare come up with an ad-lib and then put it in the play? Which play?
Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. Tenth of February 1595
"Dear Diary,
Anne, my wife, gets restless in Stratford while I am here in London. She thinks that I make eyes at every wench I see, not so, my heart is true as steel. Still, I would not want to cross her when she's angry, she is keen and shrewd - she was a vixen when she went to school. (Though I would not want her to get to the Bottom of what I am up to here). My new play goes well - that Chaucer was a fine inspiration - and I near finished it tonight. Now I have an exposition of sleep come upon me.
A great day fa, fa, fa
And so to bed."

I think that Will must have worked a little too hard before writing that diary entry, it seems that a lot of what's there was in his new play, too, and he was too tired to notice the crossover. Can you pick it out without slumbering?
Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Twenty-second of April 1616
"Dear Diary,
Last night I had the strangest dream I'd ever dreamed before. I dreamed that I saw to the future, near 400 years hence, when my flame burned as brightly as now. I dreamed that I, humble Will, had become the subject of a fiction! It was by one with a strange but true name and he made me a hero! And had me knighted for bravery! Ah I will sleep sound this night.
A happy day, fa fa fa
And so to bed."

This was the last entry in the Shakespeare Diaries, he died the next day. The modern writer with the true but strange name could only be the man they called 'The Wizard of If.' Who was he?
Hint



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quiz
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. First of September 1592 "Dear diary, I had not looked forward to the family obligations that dragged me back to Stratford. Still, I confess it was a better day than I had feared. Had lunch with Anne, went to the zoo, and oh by the way wrote a rhyme of lovers two. A good day, la, la, la And so to bed." Ah that's cryptic, but I've worked out the erotic poems that Will referred to. Which of these was it?

Answer: Venus and Adonis

Written around 1592 or 1593, this was Shakespeare's take on the nature of love, and was based on parts of Ovid's "Metamorphoses". Adonis was the first mortal chosen by the Goddess Venus to be her lover. Tragically, Adonis died in a hunting accident.
My apologies to that great folkie Tom Paxton for stealing (and adapting) the first verse of "Dear Diary", his take on the Hitler diaries hoax.
2. Sixteenth of October 5933 "Dear diary Oh I could swing for that Christopher Marlowe! We had a hard day on the stage today and I showed him my latest drama. He laughed - laughed I tell you! - at the stage direction at the end of Act One. Curse the man, I see nothing wrong with 'Exit, pursued by bear.' A poor day, fa, fa, fa And so to bed." I'm not surprised, critics have hated that stage direction ever since. In which of these plays did it appear?

Answer: The Winter's Tale

"The Winter's Tale" was first published in 1623, but perhaps written much earlier. and was intended by Shakespeare to be a comedy. Certainly while there was plenty of drama in Act One, there were comedic elements to the other two Acts. It was not an original work, Shakespeare borrowed the plot from Robert Greene's romance "Pandosto", which was published in 1590, and stayed pretty faithful to it.
3. Twelfth of November 1605 "Dear Diary, I am so excited! Today I was walking to the theatre when, by chance, I saw three women being soundly abused and stoned by an angry crowd. 'Witch, witch, witch', I heard them yell. And it gave me such an idea that I took a new quill - damnation to the expense! - and dashed off a new play tonight and cast three witches at its centre. Oh, it will be one of my greatest ever! A good day, tra, la, la And so to bed." I always thought that suspected witches were drowned rather than stoned, still, Will was right, it did become one of his greatest plays. But it was one that so many actors dreaded to name - and nor will I. By what title did they refer to it instead?

Answer: The Scottish Play

OK, I still won't name it, it's unlucky, but I'll spell it out for you M.A.C.B.E.T.H. 'The Scottish Play' was one of Shakespeare's most powerful and ranged through a full gamut of human emotions, including murder, lust, and revenge. It is thought to have been between 1603 and 1606.
4. Twenty-fourth of December 1591 "Dear Diary, Ah, now is the winter of my discontent. It was cold tonight as I sat in my ordinary over supper - mutton once again (and a scandalous halfpenny for it!) but served by a comely wench. I was ruminating over a sound bite and as I heard others talk of the horse fair, it came to me 'My Kingdom For A Horse'. I will certainly use that in my newest play! A merry day, ho, ho ho And so to bed." And a fine sound bite it turned out to be. In which of these plays did it feature?

Answer: Richard III

Shakespeare spent long periods living in rented rooms in London - leaving wife and family at Stratford. An 'ordinary' was an inn, or what we might now call a public house.
"A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!" came from King Richard III" Act 5 scene 4.
This was the tale of the brutal, and short life of the very real King Richard III. It was a tale of ambition, jealousy and murder- the anger and jealousy being that of Richard for his brother, King Edward IV and the murder being that of Richard's brother, Clarence, by Richard's orders. On Edward's death, Richard became Protector. As the factions went to war, Richard was unhorsed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, which prompted that famous quote.
5. Twenty-fourth of June 1616 "Dear Diary, How dare he! How dare they! Curses be on those who claim that it was not I who has written so many of the presentations that daily play to the crowded houses of the populace of this - surely the world's - capital. They say that schemer, with his funny handshakes and his worship of the devil, should be named author! What can he do: A New Atlantis indeed, pa - what poppycock. More rights for women! An abolition of slavery! Never shall they happen, never I say! A seething day, fa, fa, fa And so to bed." That was a bit of a rant and I really had to work hard to translate it: all those double fs made my head spin - no wonder highfells wouldn't write this quiz himself. Just who was the target of this particular bit of bile?

Answer: Francis Bacon

There were those who maintained that many of the works attributed to Shakespeare were not actually written by him. Bacon, de Vere and Christopher Marlowe were often suggested as the "true authors."
Bacon was considered the leading contender. He was certainly a good writer. Bacon loved intrigue: he was a Freemason and had an interest in the occult. His "A New Atlantis" speculated on a new land in the west where there would be no slavery and where women would have rights. He was influential in the establishment of many early settlements on the east coast of the 'New World'.
6. Twentieth of March 1594 "Dear Diary, Happy birthday to me! 30 years old today. And what does it mean: a few less hairs, a need for chairs, a dread of hearing fortunes told. Anne, my wife, would have me back at home in Stratford, but London is where I am alive. Alive! Today we began rehearsals on my newest play and little could I take my eyes of the boy cast in the lead woman's role. Fair and dainty he was. He makes a comely figure for a happy woman of that great town in the shadows of the castle west of this city. A happy day, lo, lo, lo And so to bed." Feeling my way through this entry, this can only refer to one play. Which of these was it?

Answer: The Merry Wives of Windsor

OK, I have imagined that Shakespeare was born on March 20 1564 - no one knows for sure when, certainly there was a baptismal record for April 26th of that year.
In Shakespeare's time, women did not act, boys performed their roles until their voices broke. Perhaps I'm being mischievous in the reference to the boy actor, but certainly Shakespeare's sexuality has been questioned over the years.
"A few less hairs, a need for chairs, a dread of hearing fortunes told" is another line that I have borrowed from Tom Paxton - but if I'd sworn it was down to Shakespeare, wouldn't you have believed me?
The images that exist that portray Shakespeare often show him as bald or balding.
7. Second of June 1591 "Dear Diary, A frustrating day at The Globe! Those wretched woodworkers could not get that balcony right as we rehearsed my new tale of star-crossed lovers. And the cost of horse's hair for the wig of the fair lady, 22 shillings! I would have expected the whole horse for that! Wherefore could I get it cheaper?, I did plea. Nowhere, was the reply. And don't talk to me about roses! A rose at any other price would be just as dear! How can I make money when everything costs so much? An angry day, moan, moan, moan And so to bed." This entry can only refer to one play. Which of these?

Answer: Romeo and Juliet

Written early in Shakespeare's career, but no one knows exactly when, Romeo and Juliet was one of his most popular dramas. The theme of two "star-cross'd lovers" has filtered through dramas of all ages to the modern era. The rose allusion is of course to Juliet's lines "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet."
8. Twelfth of August 1599 "Dear Diary, Marlowe was at his most waspish today. It amazes me that a man of such feeble temper should get a start in this world. He must be jealous. The whole company turned critic in finding fault with my new play. When Marlowe joined in - that was the unkindest cut of all - I could only retort 'you too, Kit'?, which rendered the little spy - unusually - speechless. Still, I am well pleased that Tom North's translation from the Greek was a firm platform for a play that will be hailed long after my life has run its compass. A fine day, pom, pom, pom And so to bed." I wonder, was this life imitating art? Did Shakespeare come up with an ad-lib and then put it in the play? Which play?

Answer: Julius Caesar

Shakespeare and Christopher (familiarly known as Kit) Marlowe were probably known to each other as actors and rival playwrights. Little is known about Marlowe's early life, certainly he was a Government spy. If his early life was an enigma, his death was a mystery - several accounts circulated. (I'm not getting into the debate that Marlowe faked his death then 'came back to life' as William Shakespeare).
Several lines from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar are intertwined in the question. I hope you spotted them.
Like many other of Shakespeare's works, "Julius Caesar" was based on existing sources - in this case the translation of Plutarch's 'Life of Brutus and Life of Caesar' by Sir Thomas North.
9. Tenth of February 1595 "Dear Diary, Anne, my wife, gets restless in Stratford while I am here in London. She thinks that I make eyes at every wench I see, not so, my heart is true as steel. Still, I would not want to cross her when she's angry, she is keen and shrewd - she was a vixen when she went to school. (Though I would not want her to get to the Bottom of what I am up to here). My new play goes well - that Chaucer was a fine inspiration - and I near finished it tonight. Now I have an exposition of sleep come upon me. A great day fa, fa, fa And so to bed." I think that Will must have worked a little too hard before writing that diary entry, it seems that a lot of what's there was in his new play, too, and he was too tired to notice the crossover. Can you pick it out without slumbering?

Answer: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Written between 1594 and 1596, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is thought to have been inspired by Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale" and Ovid's "Metamorphoses", among other earlier works. Lovers, actors, Amazonian women and fairies all played their part in the romantic comedy. It remain one of Shakespeare's most popular works.
10. Twenty-second of April 1616 "Dear Diary, Last night I had the strangest dream I'd ever dreamed before. I dreamed that I saw to the future, near 400 years hence, when my flame burned as brightly as now. I dreamed that I, humble Will, had become the subject of a fiction! It was by one with a strange but true name and he made me a hero! And had me knighted for bravery! Ah I will sleep sound this night. A happy day, fa fa fa And so to bed." This was the last entry in the Shakespeare Diaries, he died the next day. The modern writer with the true but strange name could only be the man they called 'The Wizard of If.' Who was he?

Answer: Harry Turtledove

Harry Turtledove, 'The Wizard of If', was widely regarded as being a master of the alternative history genre. He could take an historical event and twist it around (for example writing about what might have happened had the Confederates won the War Between The States.)
In "Ruled Britannia", he imagined what might have happened had the Spanish Armada succeeded in invading England in 1588. The novel brought together Shakespeare, Marlowe and Bacon as heroes, with Shakespeare challenged to write a play, the performance of which would stir up an English revolution.
This question is included to show how Shakespeare's influence continues into the modern era. His plays are still performed, and movies are still made of them. He has had other appearances in modern fiction, including one in the TV Drama "Dr Who?"
The line "Last night I had the strangest dream I'd ever dreamed before" comes from Ed McCurdy's song of the same name.
Source: Author darksplash

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor LadyCaitriona before going online.
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