What is it about?

Long-standing claims that Shakespeare used Warwickshire dialect words and phrases have been shown to be false. In a recent public debate, Jonathan Bate added four more words to Warwickshire dialect claims, all of which require scrutiny. The claimed dialect words are keech for a cake of wax, cradlecloth for a baby’s blanket, dowle for a soft feather and dey for dairy. This article demonstrates that none of these words are Warwickshire dialect. They were either widely used at the time or are not the words that Shakespeare actually used.

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Why is it important?

Our understanding of Shakspeare (and his use of language) should rest on fact, not myth.


The idea that Shakespeare used Warwickshire dialect words -- often used to defend traditional ideas of Shakespeare against authorship doubters -- is easily debunked using new digital resources, such as Early English Books Online and the digitised Oxford English Dictionary. It's vital that scholars defending Shakespeare base their arguments on strong evidence, not easily refuted claims.

Dr Ros Barber
Goldsmiths, University of London

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Shakespeare and Warwickshire Dialect Claims, Notes and Queries, October 2018, Oxford University Press (OUP),
DOI: 10.1093/notesj/gjy133.
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