An anthology of translations of two tricky lines from Shakespeare's Othello in many languages


records of the creation of the Version Variation Visualis/zation platform (

We invite contributions to a collection of the world's rewritings of the last words spoken by the Duke of Venice in Shakespeare's Othello. These lines are in Act 1, scene 3. In the 'Moby' Open Source Shakespeare, lines 646-7:*

If virtue no delighted beauty lack,

Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.

These lines raise controversial questions for readers, actors, directors, critics, and editors, as well as translators.

See Multilingual Materials for the growing collection of versions - so far about 200 in over 30 languages. They include previously published versions and new versions created for this project.

Can you help? We want versions with literal back-translations into English, source details, and (optionally) your correspondence address and further comments. Media files, or links to them, are welcome.

You can contribute by filling in the form at Contribute; or writing to:

Tom Cheesman —

Department of Modern Languages, Swansea University, SA2 8PP, Wales, UK

This is a part of a long-term project on global rewritings - translations, adaptations, versions, in all languages (including Englishes), from all times - of works not only by Shakespeare...

Digital tools can help us explore world culture, by comparing how a work is translated differently, over time and space, in the same and different languages. Text analysis and data visualization tools will contribute to cross-cultural understandings and enable new research, new learning and teaching.

Our first prototype tool is a "Translation Array" based on 37 German versions of Shakespeare's Othello (1, 3), with visual interfaces designed by Studio NAND, and 'back end' software by Kevin Flanagan.

An installation of the tool is is at: Guests have read-only access. To use the tools, contact the team. A wizard enables easier corpus creation (coding by Rossana Cunha, 2017).

2020: The software has been adopted for a project on multiple Russian translations of all Shakespeare's plays, here, led by Vladmir Makarov, Nicolay Zakharov and Boris Gaidin (Moscow University of the Humanities), funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.

Please contact Tom if you wish to use the tool in your research:

Updates on publications and presentations: see the 'Exhibition' page.

Project support: grants

February-September 2012: the 'Translation Arrays' project was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, under the 'Digital Transformations' theme: AH/J012483/1. The project title is 'Translation Arrays: Version Variation Visualization (Phase 2)'. The Principal Investigator is Dr Tom Cheesman, with Co-Investigators Dr Robert S. Laramee and Dr Jonathan Hope, Software Architect Kevin Flanagan, and Design Consultant Stephan Thiel. Work by Zhao Geng was supported by the 'Bridging the Gaps' initiative at Swansea University funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Phase 1 of the work (2011) was funded by Swansea University (Wales) College of Arts and Humanities, with Co-Investigators Dr David M. Berry, Prof. Andy Rothwell, and Dr Laramee, and Research Assistants Alison Ehrmann and Zhao Geng.

New programming work in 2017 by Rossana Cunha was funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant.

Organisations which supported us in kind - several publishers and ABBYY (free trials of OCR) - were listed in the column on the left until a site conversion which Google insisted upon in 2021.

*Also: in The Oxford Shakespeare, ed. Michael Neill (2006), lines 287-8. In The New Cambridge Shakespeare, ed. Norman Sanders (updated 2003), lines 285-6. In the British Library's First Quarto, page 17:

Image from: The tragedy of Othello, the Moore of Venice. As it hath beene diuerse times acted at the Globe, and at the Black-Friers, by his Maiesties seruants.

Written by William Shakespeare. Quarto. 1622. Owned by and © British Library, London. Page 17.