New York: HarperDesign, 2017. Hardback, 207 pages. New.
Botanical Shakespeare is an illustrated compendium of all the flowers, fruits, herbs, trees, seeds and plants which appear in Shakespeare’s works. Beautifully illustrated in full colour by Japanese artist Sumié Hasegawa-Collins, and with a foreword by Helen Mirran, each plant is vividly described, with accompanying quotes. Gerit Quealy supplements the main text with a thoroughly-researched exposition of Shakespeare’s relationship to plants; his deep knowledge of botany, colloquialisms, and his unmatched skill in weaving metaphorical connections. For each plant, there is a mine of useful facts and associations; for example, how the clinging burrs of the burdock plant became associated with obsessive crushes, or to which poisonous plant Shakespeare was referring to by his use of the term Hebanon in Hamlet.
Twenty years in the making, this is a wonderful book for anyone interested in the history and lore of plants in England, as well as those who want to dive deeper into the lore and magic enshrined in the works of Shakespeare.