Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 28 Mar 2024

William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night retold by Georghia Ellinas, illustrated by Jane Ray

Twelfth Night is up there in the list of my five favourite Shakespeare plays and so my initial reaction to the notion of it being ‘retold’ was a degree of nervousness – was making the story of this wonderful play accessible to a young audience going do such a complex work of art justice?

Well, I’m delighted to say that any fears I might have had were immediately laid to rest. Former English teacher, Georghia Ellinas has found a delightful way of navigating us through the complexities of Shakespeare’s comedy by making the court jester, Feste, the narrator:

“I am Feste the Fool, but that does not make me a fool. Quite the opposite!”

Typically, enough in a Shakespeare play there is a confusion of identities, disguised genders, aristocrats falling in and out of love and – because this is a ‘comedy’ – a final resolution in which the demands of Eros are satisfied.

However, what I suspect most people will remember from the play is the sub-plot involving a pompous steward (Malvolio), a bibulous knight (Sir Toby Belch), a gormless side-kick (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), a scheming but clever maid (Maria) and, of course,….Feste.

The sub-plot is the place where the farce happens and there’s plenty of laughs to be had – but this is Shakespeare and so we aren’t allowed to laugh thoughtlessly or guilt-free. Pompous Malvolio gets his comeuppance but does he deserve such terrible humiliation? Does anyone deserve such terrible humiliation? Happiness always has its dark underbelly. 

“It is true that journeys end in lovers meeting. As you can see, while I play the Fool, there are many people in this story who are fools themselves and some who can fool others.”

In this colourful, generously illustrated book we not only have Georghia Ellinas’ skilfully told story adaptation but the marvellous artwork of Jane Ray. We are already self-confessed fans of the work of Jane Ray and you’ll find an appreciation of her work elsewhere on our site by clicking on this link. She’s also subjected herself to one of our author interviews that gives a further insight, in her own words, into her thinking about her art and her books (you can access that by clicking on this link). 

Available now from Walker Books, you will be able to get your copy from your local independent bookshop – who will be happy to order it for you if they don’t have copies on their shelves.


Terry Potter

March 2024