Frye Shakespeare Anecdote

This absolutely ludicrous cover for the first edition of On Shakespeare is one of my most treasured possessions. It is of course based upon the Droeshout portrait. The publisher apparently did not know that Frye mischievously said of this portrait that it depicts “a man who is clearly an idiot.”

Here’s a Frye anecdote it’s never occurred to me to relate here before.  I took his undergrad Shakespeare course, which he taught that year with Julian Patrick.  The arrangement was that they would each give a one hour lecture per week, the third hour reserved for tutorials. Each also attended the other’s lectures. As the end of the second term approached, Patrick made reference to the fact that our final exam was to be April 23rd. “Shakespeare’s birthday,” he said encouragingly. Frye piped up: “Also the day he died,” which brought a roar of laughter from the class of about two hundred students. I’m glad to say we gave him a sustained round of applause at the end of his last lecture, which, as he left the stage, he paused to acknowledge with a small but pleased smile.

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