© 2020

Shakespeare and Sexuality in the Comedy of Morecambe & Wise


Part of the Palgrave Studies in Comedy book series (PSCOM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Stephen Hamrick
    Pages 1-30
  3. Morecambe & Wise Past and Present

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 31-31
    2. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 33-64
    3. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 65-87
  4. Morecambe & Wise and Shakespeare

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 89-89
    2. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 91-109
    3. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 111-129
    4. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 131-150
    5. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 151-173
  5. Morecambe & Wise and Sexuality

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 175-175
    2. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 177-208
    3. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 209-233
    4. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 235-263
    5. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 265-298
    6. Stephen Hamrick
      Pages 299-304
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 305-346

About this book


Contextualizing the duo’s work within British comedy, Shakespeare criticism, the history of sexuality, and their own historical moment, this book offers the first sustained analysis of the 20th Century’s most successful double-act.  Over the course of a forty-four-year career (1940-1984), Eric Morecambe & Ernie Wise appropriated snippets of verse, scenes, and other elements from seventeen of Shakespeare’s plays more than one-hundred-and-fifty times.  Fashioning a kinder, more inclusive world, they deployed a vast array of elements connected to Shakespeare, his life, and institutions.

Rejecting claims that they offer only nostalgic escapism, Hamrick analyses their work within contemporary contexts, including their engagement with many forms and genres, including Variety, the heritage industry, journalism, and more.  ‘The Boys’ deploy Shakespeare to work through issues of class, sexuality, and violence.  Lesbianism, drag, gay marriage, and a queer aesthetics emerge, helping to normalise homosexuality and complicate masculinity in the ‘permissive’ 1960s.


Morecambe, Eric Wise, Ernie Morecambe & Wise Shakespeare Shakespop Adaptation

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.MoorheadUSA

About the authors

Professor Stephen Hamrick, Minnesota State University Moorhead, USA, teaches British literature, religion and literature, speculative literatures, history, and writing. In addition to work on the English Reformations and Tottel’s Miscellany, Hamrick has published on George Gascoigne and Queen Elizabeth, Mary Tudor, and Lodowick Lloyd.  He has edited two collections, George Gascoigne (2008) and Tottel’s Songes and Sonettes in Context (2013). He is the author of The Catholic Imaginary and the Cults of Elizabeth, 1558-1582 (2009).

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Shakespeare and Sexuality in the Comedy of Morecambe & Wise
  • Authors Stephen Hamrick
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in Comedy
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in Comedy
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Literature, Cultural and Media Studies Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-33957-9
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-33960-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-33958-6
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIII, 346
  • Number of Illustrations 6 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Comedy Studies
    Gender and Sexuality
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“For fans of the much loved British comedians and scholars of comedy alike, Stephen Hamrick has pulled together a rich study that traces Morecambe and Wise's unique takes on the comic potential raised by the (other) double act of sex and Shakespeare. A fun and informative look at bawd and the Bard as Eric and Ern's comic inspirations.” (Dr Ian Wilkie, Editor of Comedy Studies)

“This book is extremely well-researched and represents a welcome addition to the generally under-represented field of Variety and so called ‘low comedy’ within comedy writing generally. The book presents a novel and entertaining point of view that certainly deserves a wider audience.” (Dr David James, Senior Lecturer of Film & Media Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University)