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Although he lived more than 400 years ago, Shakespeare's work continues to be an influence today. Books and movies with a fresh take on the bard's plays are still popular — and sometimes we might not even realize their origin! In honor of his April birthday, we asked staff to tell us their favorite Shakespeare-inspired titles.

Book River
Book River Items

West Side Story (2012)

by Mirisch Corporation

This is an obvious one, but it's one of my favorite musicals, based on Romeo and Juliet. The new movie is good, but still not as good as the 1961 release, in my opinion! — Jean Dravet, Business Reference Librarian

Romeo + Juliet (2010)

by Twentieth Century Fox

An innovative and interesting take on a timeless tale that benefits from Baz Luhrmann's skillful direction. — Rachel Newlin, Cataloging Librarian

The Lion King (2019)

by Walt Disney Pictures

Lion King 1 is inspired by Macbeth; Lion King 2 is inspired by Romeo and Juliet. — Eugene Avila, Circulation Assistant

10 Things I Hate About You (2010)

by Touchstone Pictures

A modern re-telling of The Taming of the Shrew, this movie has a memorable characters and a good story. It is a nice balance of humor and romance too! — Allison Bies, Fiction Librarian

This movie is a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. This is a '90s classic that I have rewatched countless times. Many famous quotes have come from this movie and I recommend it! — Jennifer Boehmer, Information Desk Assistant

Hamlet (2007)

by Castle Rock Entertainment

Like every other filming of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Kenneth Branagh's 1996 version recounts the sad story of the Prince of Denmark. In addition to re-creating the play word for word (a bonus for time-strapped students!), it has a stellar cast and a ton of fun cameos. Robin Williams and Billy Crystal show up, proving once and for all that Shakespeare is definitely not only for stuffed shirts. — Kris Milhousen, Information Desk Assistant

Shakespeare in Love (1999)

by Universal Pictures

Shakespeare in Love is a fictional imagining of the creation of Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. Sweet, funny, with a bit of intrigue as well as devastating heartbreak, it is a captivating watch as Shakespeare attempts to capture the true nature of love. Shakespeare in Love is an Academy Award winner for best picture and has received many additional accolades. — Sara Hanson, Information Desk Assistant

William Shakespeare's Star Wars : Verily, a New Hope (2013)

by Ian Doescher

“True it is,/ That these are not the droids for which thou search'st." The Star Wars series as written by Shakespeare is an example of something one doesn't know they wanted, but upon reading realize it is EXACTLY what they need. Doescher covers the entire series, and each installment is cleverly rendered and sure to bring laughter. Bonus: the audiobook versions are worth it for R2D2 alone! — Emily Vinci, Fiction Manager

Verona Comics (2020)

by Jennifer Dugan

In this LGBTQ+ young adult retelling of Romeo and Juliet, the main characters' families own rival comic book shops. —Allison Riggs, Teen Librarian

Shylock is My Name : the Merchant of Venice Retold (2016)

by Howard Jacobson

Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson is a darkly comic retelling of The Merchant of Venice that transports Shylock from medieval Venice to modern-day Cheshire. Strulovitch (Shylock) wrestles with his heritage, his daughter's future, his rivals, and his grief but, much like in Shakespeare's original, remains all the more intriguing for his depth and complexity. — Magan Szwarek, Reference Services Director

New Boy (2017)

by Tracy Chevalier

Set in 1970s Washington, New Boy is a retelling of Shakespeare's Othello, reimagined in an elementary school playground over the course of one high-drama day. — Magan Szwarek, Reference Services Director

The Dead Fathers Club (2007)

by Matt Haig

Dead Father's Club by Matt Haig tells the story of young Phillip, a boy traumatized by his father's death and pursued by his voice from beyond the grave. That voice demands revenge against his brother, Phillip's Uncle Alan, who killed his father ... well, it's Hamlet, isn't it? — Magan Szwarek, Reference Services Director