Internet Shakespeare Editions


Reading and writing

A hornbook of Shakespeare's time.
By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The first learning device that Shakespeare used would have been the hornbook. This device was simply a small wooden frame with a handle, containing the alphabet and the Lord's Prayer written on a piece of parchment and protected by a thin layer of horn. In a Protestant educational system, instruction from the Bible and Prayer Book would have been in English.

Religious education

Although there is no clear evidence about the nature of Shakespeare's religious faith, the religious training of the Stratford community was Protestant. Under the recent Act of Uniformity, Shakespeare's religious education at school would have focused on the Homilies, the Geneva Bible, and the Book of Common Prayer, all of which were in English, and all of which stressed the teachings of the Church of England.