Famous Books by Shakespeare

6 minute read
Famous Books by Shakespeare

Endearingly referred to as England’s National Poet, William Shakespeare poured the world of English Literature with innumerable emotions and carved many romantic sagas, tragedies and comedies which are still inspiring the contemporary writers and poets in the 21st century! He was one of the greatest playwrights and transformed the literary as well as theatrical arts with his marvellous works. The history of English Literature remains incomplete without his presence as he created many amazingly written plays embedded with human emotions, follies and explore almost every literary genres we know today! This blog reminisces his wonderful works and writing at its par excellence as we enlist some of the famous books by Shakespeare!

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”

Romeo and Juliet

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.”

Who hasn’t heard of the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet? Used as a plot for many romantic sagas, this romantic tragedy is among the most famous books by Shakespeare. The play revolves around the love story of Romeo and Juliet who come from feuding families who are age-old enemies of each other. A twist of fate leads Romeo to be blamed for the death of Juliet’s cousin, which results in his banishment. 

Famous Books by Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare and Company, 1986
Courtesy: shakespeare.org.uk

In a desperate attempt to be united with Romeo, Juliet fakes her death but the plan goes awry when Romeo, who is not made aware of the plan in time, kills himself in Juliet’s tomb. Waking up to his dead body, Juliet takes her own life to reunite with her love. The two families finally end their feud after their death.


“To be, or not to be, that is the question.”

Amongst the popular film adaptations of famous books by Shakespeare, Hamlet is a revenge saga in which the protagonist is visited by the ghost of his father, the king of Denmark, who tells him that he was murdered by Hamlet’s uncle who is now the new king. The ghost encourages him to avenge his death by killing the murderer, and as part of this plan, Hamlet feigns madness to find out the truth. On the other hand, his uncle also devises schemes to kill Hamlet. The climax of the play is a duel, during which the king, Hamlet’s mother, his opponents and Hamlet himself dies. Hamlet is deemed to be the greatest tragedy written by Shakespeare.

The Merchant of Venice

“Mislike me not for my complexion,
The shadowed livery of the burnished sun.”

The Merchant of Venice puts forward a tale of hostility and conflict on the grounds of religion. Antonio is a merchant of Venice whose ships are long due to arrive at the port. A friend of Antonio borrows money from a Jewish moneylender, Shylock, on the security of his ships to court a wealthy woman named Portia. Shylock, having nurtured resentment against Antonio for his antisemitic views, asks for a pound of his flesh if the loan is not repaid within three months. Unable to repay the loan, Antonio is dragged to the courts by Shylock who insists on receiving his flesh as per the agreement. The play concludes with Portia saved by Antonio in the guise of a lawyer. It is one of the famous books of Shakespeare and intricately highlights the dilemma between self-interest and love with a tinge of humour nestled within an amalgam of romance and drama. 


Two truths are told
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of th’imperial theme

A tragedy which strikingly dramatises the massive physical and psychological impact of political ambition, Macbeth is amongst the must-read plays by William Shakespeare. It tells the story of a Scottish general named Macbeth who, on believing the prophecy received from 3 witches that he will become the king of Scotland, plans and commits the murder of the Scottish king, King Duncan, along with his wife, Lady Macbeth. Crowned as king, Macbeth becomes consumed by paranoia and starts killing more people to protect his position. Finally, he is defeated in a civil war that erupts as a result of his actions. 

King Lear

“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.”

Another popular tragedy written by William Shakespeare, King Lear is a story of familial relations and political ambitions. King Lear, delighted by the flattery of two among his three daughters, divides his kingdom among them. The third daughter, Cordelia’s failure to engage in flattery and is exiled by the king. 

Famous Books by Shakespeare
King Lear by Universal Company in China
Courtesy: shakespeare.uk.org

Having gained power, his daughters banish their own father from the kingdom and throw him out into a storm. The king goes insane and is then reunited with Cordelia who comes with an army to reclaim the kingdom. In the end, the battle is lost and the story ends with the death of king lear and all his daughters.


“She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them.”

A tale of jealousy and its tragic effects, Othello is one of the oldest classics of William Shakespeare. A Moorish general of Venice, Othello, gets married to a beautiful white woman, Desdemona. Resenting Othello for not considering him for a high position of a lieutenant, Iago starts plotting against Othello. 

Courtesy: Superior Telegram

As part of his plot, Iago starts manipulating Othello to make him believe that his wife is cheating on him. Falling prey to Iago’s plot, Othello is consumed by jealousy and murders his wife by smothering her with a pillow. On learning the truth after killing his wife, Othello realises his mistake and the effect of the green-eyed monster of jealousy and kills himself.

The Comedy of Errors

“Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?
Sleeping or waking, mad or well-advised?
Known unto these, and to myself disguised?
I’ll say as they say, and persever so,
“And in this mist at all adventures go.”

Another essential mention amongst the famous books by Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors is one of his earliest works and as the title suggests, is a comedic play. A story of confusion arising from two sets of long lost twins, it is a short play which begins with Egeon explaining the separation of his wife and one of his twin sons along with one of their twin servants at a storm 23 years ago to the ruler of Ephesus. 

Courtesy: Nosweatshakespeare,com

Unbeknownst to him, his son Antipholus and the servant Dromio have reached the city to search for their lost brothers. On the other hand, the separated pair of one twin and his servant, also named Antipholus and Dromio have been living in Ephesus for many years. What follows is a series of misunderstandings and confusion due to their identical looks. The story ends with the reunion of the family and their servants.

Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.

The world of William Shakespeare was truly a stage filled with memorable characters, wonderful plots and the best tragedies, romances and comedies! These were some of the famous books of Shakespeare and there are many more from Antony and Cleopatra to Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing! Aspiring to become a writer? Reach out to our Leverage Edu experts and we will help you explore the best creative writing courses offered around the world and find the best one which fits your interests and aspirations! Sign up for a free career counselling session with us today!

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