Lifted from a comment on my Top Ten Shakespeare Plays story, Michael5000 did a far deeper look at the plays based on things like how well people can recall the name of the play, how well the books sell, and so on.
I’m not going to steal his thunder, but I am going to zero in on a couple of fascinating things:
* One of his lists echoes our own list almost identically, except for one glaring difference – Henry VI shows up on theirs. Nobody in all of my voting has even mentioned Henry VI.
* His most obscure, Two Noble Kinsmen, is hardly a surprise – until recently it wasn’t even considered part of the complete works! I only learned about it in 2005, personally. Never read it.
* Measure for Measure shows up on his obscure list. I’ve had several people put it on their top ten best list. That sounds like a “hidden gem” of Shakespeare’s if I’ve ever heard one!
* In the final analysis, Lear ranks surprisingly low. That’s a good indicator of what he’s measuring (not that that’s a bad thing). People are way, way more familiar with Romeo and Juliet. People will go through their whole lives without knowing anything about Lear.
Anyway, it’s a great bunch of data that folks can have a field day with. Which play is the most quotable, and is that a good indicator of the play’s popularity? What about how often the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has chosen to perform certain plays over others?
Go check it out.