Books below…

Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary

Essential guidance for students and playgoers around the world

Shortlisted for the Educational Writer of the Year Award, 2016

A unique dictionary to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language, compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal
Over 4000 Shakespearean words clearly explained with examples from the twelve most studied and performed plays including Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream

Notes giving insights into Shakespeare’s use of language, his society, and theatrical performances

Panels covering the language used in a wide range of fascinating topics  including money, insults, and swearing

Full-colour illustrations of the Elizabethan's bright cosmos, sharp and vicious weapons, fashions of the day, musical instruments, and maps of the lands and place names!

This is the most up-to-date and accessible language reference tool which will boost your understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare’s plays.

You Say Potato

An authoritative, entertaining book about our accents, and what they say about us

Everyone has an accent, though many of us think we don't. We all have our likes and dislikes about the way other people speak, and everyone has something to say about 'correct' pronunciation. But how did all these accents come about, and why do people feel so strongly about them? Are regional accents dying out as English becomes a global language? And most importantly of all: what went wrong in Birmingham?

From reconstructing Shakespeare's accent to the rise and fall of Received Pronunciation, actor Ben Crystal and his linguist father David travel the world in search of the stories of spoken English.

Witty, authoritative and jam-packed full of fascinating facts, You Say Potato is a celebration of the myriad ways in which the English language is spoken - and how our accents, in so many ways, speak louder than words.

Some people say scohn, while others say schown.

He says bath, while she says bahth.

You say potayto. I say potahto.

And -

- wait a second, no one says potahto. No one's ever said potahto.

Have they?

Springboard Shakespeare

"Springboard Shakespeare is the perfect tool for actors, students, theatre-goers and anyone interested in understanding Shakespeare. Ben Crystal has created guides that are a valuable and accessible way to enjoy Shakespeare's genius."
Kenneth Branagh

Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth and Dream are the most studied and performed of Shakespeare's plays. These accessible introduction soffers a springboard into each play, taking a hands-on, performance-based approach, exploring the challenges and the rewards it presents to actors, audiences and students. Springboard Shakespeare has a three-part structure: whether you're watching or reading, Ben Crystal takes you through exactly what you need to know Before, During and After the play. He combines a genuine passion and understanding of Shakespeare with his experience as an actor, giving the reader a clear route to thinking about, understanding and enjoying four of Shakespeare's greatest works. 

" Springboard Shakespeare is excellent - a copy should come with every theatre programme!"
Judi Dench 

"Springboard Shakespeare is brisk, punchy and full of illumination!"
Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe 

Sorry I'm British

"An entertaining combination of wry comments and fond observations. Very handy for Brits and non-Brits alike." 
David Else - Author of the Lonely Planet Guide to Great Britain 

Sorry I'm britishExplore the oddities of the British psyche with this informative and witty illustrated guide. For a nation that loves to laugh at themselves, this is the perfect companion when wandering lonely through the clouds of British behaviour. From small-talk to superiority, from the famous stiff upper lip to hooliganism, from cricket to condiments, and curry to class, this book will take you through the sometimes sarcastic, often poetic, generally polite, never boastful but universally proud realm of all that's British - its culture, its institutions and its people.

"Light-hearted, informative, and highly readable. Ed McLachlan's hilarious cartoons complement the text perfectly."    
Jonathan Crowther - Author of the Oxford Guide to British and American Culture

The Shakespeare Miscellany

This compilation, in the tradition of the Victorian miscellany, gathers together essential facts and fascinating insights into the plays and poems, the man behind them (insofar as this is known), and the context in which he worked.

Put together by an actor and a linguist - the pair who brought you 'Shakespeare's Words' (25000 copies sold as of 2005) - it will be quirky, illuminating and endlessly interesting. Topics covered include lost plays, what he would have studied at school, Shakespeare's pronunciation, why the Globe burned down and the difference between a Folio and a Quarto.

Shakespeare on Toast

"Shakespeare on Toast is a brilliantly enjoyable, light-hearted look at Shakespeare which dispels the myths and makes him accessible to all. I love it!" 
Judi Dench

Shortlisted for the Educational Writer of the Year Award, 2010.

Who’s afraid of William Shakespeare? Just about everyone. He wrote too much and what he wrote is inaccessible and elitist. Right?

Wrong. Shakespeare on Toast knocks the stuffing from the staid old myth of Shakespeare, revealing the man and his plays for what they really are: modern, thrilling, uplifting drama.

The colourful words and vibrant world of the world’s greatest hack writer are brought brilliantly to life by actor Ben Crystal. Sweeping cobwebs from the Bard – his language, his life, his world – Crystal reveals man and work as relevant, accessible, alive.

This is a book for everyone, whether you’re studying Shakespeare for the first time or you’ve never set foot near one of his plays, but have always wanted to. It smashes down the walls that have been built up around him, that have turned Shakespeare into an untouchable literary figure. Shakespeare, Crystal reminds us, invented popular culture.

Told in five fascinating Acts, this is quick, easy and good for you. Just like beans on toast.
...published by Icon Books, September 2008


The Guardian

"A Masterclass"  
The Times

"Compelling... A tasty snack with genius" 
 The Independent

"Ben Crystal is the Jamie Oliver of Shakespeare."
BBC Radio 5

"Humorous, unpretentious and fascinating."
Independent on Sunday

"Remarkable? This book should be read."
Sydney Morning Herald

"Shakespeare on Toast is reassuring and appealing ... you'll want all your Shakespeare-resistant friends to read it."
Around The Globe

"Ben Crystal's excellent book is an ideal way to gain an understanding of why Shakespeare is so brilliant, and so enjoyable."
Sir Richard Eyre

"Ben Crystal's witty and engaging book is a relaxed, user-friendly reminder that enjoying Shakespeare should be as easy as breathing."
Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Words: A Glossary and Language Companion

"Detailed, comprehensive, fascinating."
Kenneth Branagh

Shakespeare's Words is for people who love Shakespeare, or who love language, or both. David Crystal, one of the world's leading experts on the English Language, and his actor son Ben, have created an immensely practical and enlightening guide to understanding Shakespeare's language for readers, audiences, students, directors and actors.
They have collected over 14,000 words that can cause difficulty or be amiguous to the modern reader. Each word is glossed and illustrated by at least one quotation. There are succinct precis of the plays, lists of dramatis personae and a unique diagrammatic circle for each play demonstrating the interaction of characters and their allegiances. With special panels on intriguing areas such as archaisms, greetings, farewells and swear words, as well as dialects, Greek mythology, weapons and money, Shakespeare's Words will greatly enrich every reader's understanding and appreciation of the plays, and will encourage a new generation to treasure them.

"This is a fascinating guide to Shakespeare's language, an indispensable treasure chest for anyone who loves watching or reading the plays and is curious about the meaning, use and derivation of the language."
Sir Richard Eyre

"Shakespeare's Words is one of the very few works of reference that deserves a place on the shelves of all Shakespeare lovers and for that matter all lovers of the English language. In all too many cases explanation of Shakespeare's words - both those that have become obsolete and those that have changed in meaning - have been passed down from editor to editor since the nineteenth century. David and Ben Crystal, by contrast, have returned to first principles and in so doing produced the most comprehensive guide to Shakespeare's astonishing linguistic inventiveness that has ever been compiled."
Professor Jonathan Bate

"There can be no doubt that [the editors] have carried out their work admirably"
John Goss in The Sunday Telegraph, 9th June 2002

"The editors ... have produced a huge work of user-friendly scholarship ... It works brilliantly"
The Economist, 14th June 2002

Guardian Interview