Book Review: Colouring Shakespeare


I know that lots of you, like me, are really interested in finding artistic and creative tools to help support us through the stresses of work and life, and one of the most popular tools that people have mentioned in response to my blog posts on this theme is colouring. From your comments, it’s clear that many of you find colouring a peaceful and calming activity when times get tough and thoughts become intrusive. So when Modern Books got in touch with me to ask if I would like to review a copy of their unique new all-age colouring book ‘Colouring Shakespeare’, I said yes right away – I was sure that the book would make a lovely giveaway treat for someone out there (interested in winning a copy…? read on!).


In the year that we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, it’s a lovely idea to celebrate his words by working with these beautiful, evocative images. As the fabulous Simon Callow says, in the foreword:

You don’t have to be gifted with synaesthesia – that extraordinary neurological phenomenon which causes those who possess it to experience words as colours – to sense the different tints and shades with which Shakespeare has endowed his characters. As an actor, one has to be very sensitive to these colours. But just read the words out loud, and you will too. The fill in those colours in the book and they will come alive to you in a particularly vivid way.

What colours there are to find! Just let them come to you. They are everywhere in Shakespeare.

The pictures, drawn by Judy Stevens, are almost as inspiring as the words. I love the exuberance of this summer scene drawn to illustrate some words from The Tempest.



The activity of colouring has been found to distract the mind from troubling and intrusive thoughts – how much more will it do so when you can immerse your self in the language and colours of Shakespeare? There are speeches from the plays, and sonnets too, to enjoy:

Sonnet 56 is illustrated with this magical image of the ocean and shore.

One of the benefits of colouring is that it calms the amygdala (read more about the amygdala and its role in anxiety and stress in this excellent outline) – providing rest and relaxation for people living with the hugely heightened fight or flight response that comes when you are living with anxiety.

If you are a person, like me, who finds comfort in beautiful words as well as pictures, then I feel that working with this book could provide even more refreshment for tightly wound nerves.


This is one of my favourite pages – it’s a real sensory delight, with this beautiful scene illustrating Oberon’s words from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:

There sleeps Titania sometime of the night

Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.

It was hard to resist reaching for the pencils and colouring it in myself – but I wanted to keep the book pristine so that I could give it away!


There’s over 30 illustrations, so there’s so much to keep you occupied and distracted from negative habits (if that’s something that would benefit you) and to give you a chance to express your creativity, increase your focus and concentration, and give your mind the opportunity to be inspired by Shakespeare’s poetry.


Would you like to win this lovely book, and a set of 12 lovely watercolour pencils by Koh-I-Noor? Then you just need to pop round to my Very Berry Handmade Facebook page to join in!

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