Five Fascinating Facts about Othello

Interesting Literature

Fun facts about Shakespeare’s classic tragedy

1. Othello has given us some very famous phrases. Whether we’re describing jealousy as ‘the green-eyed monster’, talking of sexual intercourse as ‘the beast with two backs’, or wearing our heart on our sleeve, we’re quoting Shakespeare’s Othello when we do so.

2. Quite where the name ‘Othello’ came from remains something of a mystery. Probably derived from the name Otho, the name Othello doesn’t appear in Shakespeare’s source for the play, the short story ‘Un Capitano Moro’ (‘A Moorish Captain’, i.e. Othello; indeed, Desdemona is the only named character in the source text; every other character is referred to by his rank). ‘Othello’ was, then – like, it has been suggested, the name Imogen – a Shakespearean coinage.

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