Hunger


The Jamestown Background of Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Books & Literature  •  Fellowships  •  History

Painting by J. W. Waterhouse: "Miranda, a character in 'The Tempest', a play by William Shakespeare"
Painting by J. W. Waterhouse: "Miranda, a character in 'The Tempest', a play by William Shakespeare"

Virginia Humanities Conference Room

145 Ednam Drive, Charlottesville VA 22903

Join us in Charlottesville when Virginia Humanities Fellow Hannah Wojciehowski (University of Texas at Austin) will consider the evidence that Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” may have its roots in Jamestown.

In 1609, the Sea Venture, the flagship of a resupply mission sailing to Jamestown, was caught in a hurricane and ran aground at Bermuda, then an uninhabited island. 

The wreck of that supply ship intensified the crippling food shortages in the fledgling Virginia colony, and hundreds died during the winter eventually known as The Starving Time. Soon afterwards, William Shakespeare would write The Tempest, drawing on contemporary accounts of the Bermuda shipwreck. 

Could he have written this play at the behest of the Virginia Company of London?