July 26, 2012

New app brings Shakespeare’s sonnets to life


Stephen Fry reads Shakespeare's Sonnet 130

Digital publisher TouchPress, which drew strong praise for its iPad app for T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, is launching a new literary app, this time for William Shakespeare’s sonnets.

The sonnets app includes the complete Arden Shakespeare text of the 154 poems, along with its annotations, which are synchronized to the readings of each poem, line by line. The readings themselves are probably the highlight of the app, as each one is read in a specially recorded video, performed by a wide range of actors and poets including Stephen Fry, Patrick Stewart, Fiona Shaw, Dominic West, Kim Cattrall, Don Paterson, among others.

Paterson, a poet, also provides an essay to the app, titled “Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A New Commentary;” other features include a facsimile of the 1609 quatro that shows the sonnets as first published, and extended interviews with various scholars. Embracing social media and interactivity, it also lets users stream the videos directly on Apple TV, as well as write their own notes and share sonnets via Facebook and Twitter.

If you don’t feel like spending the $13.99 on the app, all 154 performances of the sonnets are available on TouchPress’ website.


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.