Bringing Forth the Bard

A guide to teaching Shakespeare in the English classroom

By: Zoe Enser


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PublishedApril 2022
Size234 x 156mm

Written by Zoe Enser, Bringing Forth the Bard: A guide to teaching Shakespeare in the English classroom links together the golden threads which run through Shakespeare’s work and highlights how teachers can best explore these with students.

Foreword by Professor Emma Smith.

The more you explore the plays of Shakespeare, the more you realise how they are an interrelated network of ideas and themes – linked to his context, his audience and his understanding of the world.

In Bringing Forth the Bard, Zoe Enser equips busy teachers with the core knowledge that will enable them to make links between the themes, characters, language and allusions in Shakespeare’s oeuvre. Each chapter includes tips on how to bring his plays to life in the classroom, and features case studies from practising teachers in a range of contexts to illustrate how they can ensure that their students develop an appreciation of his work – moving beyond the requirements of exams and empowering them to engage in the discussion around his influence and enduring appeal.

Underpinned by the author’s academic enquiries on the subject, at both undergraduate and master’s level, the book enables teachers to access the information they need in order to enrich their teaching beyond a single play and begin to unpick the threads of Shakespeare’s work as a whole. The link between subject knowledge and pedagogical approaches runs throughout the book, focusing on the Shakespeare plays most popularly taught in the classroom and how we can enrich students’ understanding of these by looking both at the links across the domain and the bigger picture his work presents.

Zoe builds a detailed schema of Shakespeare’s work, his world, his ideas and his influences – and offers signposts to further reading and provides an appendix which will support teachers to rapidly find references to the plays they are teaching, and the ideas related to them.

Suitable for teachers of English in all phases.

Picture for author Zoe Enser

Zoe Enser

Zoe Enser was a classroom teacher for 20 years, during which time she was also a head of English and a senior leader with a responsibility for staff development and school improvement. She is now the lead specialist English adviser for Kent working with The Education People and is an evidence lead in education (ELE). Zoe also writes for TES and is the co-author of Fiorella & Mayer’sGenerative Learning in Action and The CPD Curriculum.


  1. Zoe Enser’s Bringing Forth the Bard is a tour de force: an essential guide to help ensure that our students receive the best teaching when it comes to approaching Shakespeare. It is a text that allows its readers to consider, to analyse and to reflect on why Shakespeare is still relevant in our classrooms today. From discussing his context and influences as well as biblical and classical allusion to an exploration of symbols, motifs and stagecraft, Zoe deftly removes any barriers to understanding Shakespeare we may encounter, offering us a peek into parts of the Bard’s world that are often ignored. This has clearly been a labour of love for Zoe, and how brilliant it is that it has been shared with us all. It is, quite simply, a triumph.

  2. Zoe Enser’s Bringing Forth the Bard is erudite yet accessible, comprehensive yet pacey, and brimming with clever theory yet eminently practical. Essential for newer teachers, it features helpful insights and advice from expert teachers and will also offer enough new ideas to satisfy even the biggest Shakespeare aficionado. This book should go to the top of any English teacher’s book wish list.

  3. Bringing Forth the Bard is a wonderful introduction to the joys and challenges of teaching young people about the work of England’s most celebrated playwright. In this eminently readable book, Enser shares her vast knowledge of Shakespeare’s creations and the ways in which teachers can make them accessible to young people. Whether you are teaching Shakespeare for the first time or searching for renewed inspiration, Bringing Forth the Bard will prove to be an insightful and invigorating read.

  4. Bringing Forth the Bard is a welcome addition to the long line of books (in the tradition of Rex Gibson and James Stredder) about teaching Shakespeare in schools and colleges. Its pragmatic approach will appeal to teachers looking for practical material to use in the classroom. Many of the activities presented are entirely new and innovative. The book convinces us that Shakespeare is still relevant to young people in today’s classrooms, and that study of his works can be part of the all-important inclusivity agenda. Busy teachers will welcome the useful summaries of contextual material, and students will enjoy the string of lively, contemporary cultural references employed by the author when discussing the plays. The book does not shy away from addressing necessary – if sometimes less popular – issues such as examination board requirements and ‘cultural capital’, but matters are always directed back to the most important concern of all: bringing Shakespeare’s scripts to life in the classroom through creative activities which emphasise enjoyment of the plays’ themes, linguistic techniques and dramatic methods.

  5. Zoe Enser’s Bringing Forth the Bard is an artful, accessible and fascinating guide to Shakespeare’s work, drawing on the immense power and the utter joy of studying his writing in a properly academic way. Enser draws masterfully on the intertextuality of the Bard’s work, weaving together excellent explanations and practical applications together with a range of superb case studies contributed by myriad subject experts. It is thoroughly expert, insightful and brimming with Enser’s clear love of Shakespeare’s work.

    Bringing Forth the Bard is a resource I will return to time and time again, highlighter in hand, ready to share Enser’s expert insights with my students. Bloom argues Shakespeare shapes the way we think about the world; this book shapes the way I think about Shakespeare. It is a triumph.

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