A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of Shakespeare’s most popular works, written c1595 in the last years of Elizabeth I. It is a comedy of love and desire and their many complications as well as their simplicity, and a reflection on society’s expectations and limits. It is also a quiet critique of Elizabeth and her vulnerability and on the politics of the time, and an exploration of the power of imagination.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Helen Hackett 3 episodes
    Professor of English Literature and Leverhulme Research Fellow at University College London
  • Tom Healy 6 episodes
    Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Sussex
  • Alison Findlay No other episodes
    Professor of Renaissance Drama at Lancaster University and Chair of the British Shakespeare Association

Reading list

  • Shakespeare and Ovid
    Jonathan Bate (Oxford University Press, 1993) Google Books →
  • A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare
    Dympna Callaghan (ed.) (Blackwell, 2016) Google Books →
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream: Contemporary Critical Essays
    Richard Dutton (ed.) (Palgrave, 1996) Google Books →
  • A Companion to Shakespeare's Works: Vol. III: The Comedies
    Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard (eds.) (Blackwell, 2003) Google Books →
  • Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourse of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe
    Margaret W. Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy J. Vickers (eds.) (University of Chicago Press, 1986) Google Books →
  • Writers and Their Work: 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
    Helen Hackett (British Council/Northcote House, 1997) Google Books →
  • Shakespeare and Elizabeth: The Meeting of Two Myths
    Helen Hackett (Oxford University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • Reading the Early Modern Dream: The Terrors of the Night
    Katharine Hodgkin, Michelle O'Callaghan, and S. J. Wiseman (eds.) (Routledge, 2008) Google Books →
  • The Bottom Translation: Marlowe and Shakespeare and the Cultural Tradition
    Jan Kott (trans. Daniela Miedzyrecka and Lillian Vallee) (Northwestern University Press, 1987) Google Books →
  • The Purpose of Playing: Shakespeare and the Cultural Politics of the Elizabethan Theatre
    Louis Montrose (University of Chicago Press, 1996) Google Books →
  • Shakespeare and the Popular Voice
    Annabel Patterson (Blackwell, 1989) Google Books →
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
    William Shakespeare (ed. Sukanta Chaudhuri) (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017) Google Books →
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
    William Shakespeare (ed. Peter Holland) (Oxford University Press, 1994) Google Books →
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
    William Shakespeare (ed. Stanley Wells) (Penguin, 2005) Google Books →
  • Our Moonlight Revels: A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Theatre
    Gary Jay Williams (University of Iowa Press, 1997) Google Books →
  • Writing Metamorphosis in the English Renaissance 1500-1700
    Susan Wiseman (Cambridge University Press, 2014) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m00046rp

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00046rp

Auto-category: 822.33 (Shakespeare’s comedies)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's most popular plays, with some of his most memorable characters, including Oberon, Titania, Puck, Peter Quince and Bottom.