Shakespeare’s Scents – flowers he loved, fragrances we adore…

Shakespeare’s exact birthday isn’t known, though scholars generally suppose it to be somewhere in late April (his baptism being recorded as taking place on April 26), while April 23rd is National Shakespeare Day, the anniversary of the bard’s death in 1616. Therefore, at this time in spring our thoughts turn to the man who is still the most well-known poet and playwright in the world; and our thoughts, in particular, turn to fragrances we can connect to Shakespeare’s love for flowers

 

 

 

Shakespeare’s Flowers cards£3.99 for 5 x A5 pack, DaysEyeCards

 

Though much of what we know of Shakespeare’s life is supposition, what we can surely surmise is that he loved flowers – including references to over fifty types of them within his writing, using blooms and blossoms to highlight the emotional tone of scenes, reflect character’s thoughts or send messages his audiences would have readily understood in the ‘language of flowers.’ Artists, writers and musicians still find much inspiration in these floral allusions, and little wonder, given the veritable bouquet of creative suggestion Shakespeare proffers.

Many of the flowers Shakespeare alluded to in his work have led to well-known phrases we still use, such as ‘a rose by any other name’ and ‘gilding the lily’, though often their context gets lost in the repetition. In Romeo and Juliet, for example, the rose is used to there to garland Juliet’s complaint about their families refusing to let them marry because of an ongoing feud, saying:

 

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet. [Act II Scene II Line 43]

As for the lily, that pops up when painted, in King John, with a courtier commenting

To gild refined gold, to paint the lily

To throw perfume on the violet …

Is wasteful and ridiculous excess [Act 4 Scene 4 Line 11]

 

 

 

 

Sarah McCartney, founder and perfumer of British indie perfume house 4160 Tuesdays explains her personal inspiration for creating a Shakespearian scent:

‘We first made a limited edition of Sonnet No.1 for the Barnes Fragrance Fair, and the aim was to blend the aroma of Shakespeare’s flowers. Shakespeare’s first sonnet mentions “beauty’s rose” hence the name. To rose – both the absolute and essential oil – we added lavender, beeswax and hay absolutes, and evoke the aromas of lily and violet. It floats on a bed of white musks.’

‘This is the most expensive fragrance we’ve ever made, even topping Floral Psychedelica and The Waft From The Loft, although that was a lot more complicated to make. For batch number one we only made 500mls, but we loved it so much we decided to add it to the collection in 2024.’
Sonnet No.1 £60 for 15ml eau de parfum – a sample is available in our Seasonal Scents Spring box

 

But this wasn’t 4160 Tuesday’s first foray into Shakespearian-themed fragrances…

 

‘We were invited to make a midsummer scent for a 2013 charity evening in Ealing, West London, using plants and flowers named in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so we imagined the scenes taking place by Pitzhanger Manor on Ealing Green, and created the aroma of a magical summer evening. Its perfect for wearing in the heat.
It starts with a wander through the herb and flower gardens of Walpole Park, takes in a picnic on the grass and ends up lying on the lawn by the pond, staring at the clouds floating by, smelling the warm earth.’ – Sarah McCartney

 

 

4160 Tuesdays Ealing Green £65 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

Well, what better time to purchase a bottle and immerse yourself in the floral imagery of Shakespeare? And apart from these two meadow-frolicking, star-crossed lover-evoking stunners from 4160 Tuesdays, here’s two other blooms of Shakespearian-esque scents you might care to try, and feel inspired while wearing…

 

 

 

Exploring the nuances of what femininity means – the house’s name imagining the most swooning-ly romanticised heroine armed with a pistol – they explain that ‘JULIETTE illustrates what our heroine would be in 2024. A symbol of untamed femininity, powerful, free, passionate, she aims to be the one and only in the spotlight, she’s leading the dance!’ Black cherry, pops of pink pepper and a sizzle of spices keep the nose dancing to this olfactive melody.

Juliette Has A Gun JULIETTE from £25 for 8ml eau de parfum exclusive to spacenk.com

 

 

‘Inspired by William Shakespeare’s most famous comedy- A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Set in a forest where mythical fairies live, a place where dreams and reality are oddly mixed.’ An amber gourmand that opens with citrus notes of bergamot, grapefruit, neroli, the honey-like tones of the amber meld like liquid gold, granting an other-worldly glow to the more ethereal brightness. Beautifully balanced, it’s a delight from first spritz to that final, tantalising trail. Magical!

Clive Christian Jump up and Kiss me Hedonistic (try it in the Clive Christian Around the World Discovery Set £150)

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale