Shakespeare and Murder

Get into the Halloween spirit with mysteries that mix Shakespeare and murder. It’s a winning combination!

Colleen Sehy
4 min readOct 18, 2020


A bust of the Bard at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC (photo by Colleen Sehy)

Murder is a key plot point in Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Titus Andronicus, and many other Shakespeare plays. Maybe that’s why so many authors have discovered the Bard and murder are a winning combination. If you’re in the mood for some murderous mayhem and Shakespeare, here are some ideas to get you started.

“Ring the alarum-bell. Murder and treason!”
Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 3

Shakespeare Solves Some Murders

Simon Hawke’s engaging Shakespeare and Smythe series follows the lives of William Shakespeare and his friend, Symington “Tuck” Smythe. The two men meet on the road to London, both intent on seeking fame and fortune in the big city (Shakespeare as a playwright and Smythe as an actor). They soon pool their resources and end up sharing some unexpected adventures — adventures that often include murder. There are four books in the series: A Mystery of Errors (2000); The Slaying of the Shrew (2001); Much Ado About Murder (2002); and The Merchant of Vengeance (2003).

“Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile…”
King Henry VI, Part III, Act 3, Scene 2

One of Shakespeare’s Players Solves Some Murders

Philip Gooden’s series of six Shakespearean mysteries feature Nick Revill, an actor in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (the company formed by William Shakespeare and his partners). In the first book, Sleep of Death (2000), the fledgling player investigates the death of a wealthy nobleman and finds suspicious parallels to the Bard’s new play, Hamlet. Is it a tragic coincidence or is something more sinister afoot? The trail of clues leads Nick to wonder if Shakespeare could be a murderer.

“My mistress here lies murder’d in her bed…” Othello, Act 5, Scene 2

Shakespeare is Accused of Murder

When the Bard is accused of killing an old friend in Murder in Stratford (2005) by Audrey Peterson, his wife, Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, sets out to investigate in the hope of clearing his name. We don’t actually know much about Shakespeare’s…



Colleen Sehy

Writer, traveler & Anglophile ( Author of “Finding Shakespeare in America” (2020) and Eating British in America columnist at