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To thine own self be true...

Marcia Williams' Dotty Dolls

Who created it?

Marcia Williams



Most importantly – I am a Patron of Shakespeare Week! I am also an author and illustrator with a variety of books to my name: novels, diaries, comic-strip retellings and histories. I also have created several retellings of Shakespeare’s plays including Mr William Shakespeare’s Plays and Bravo, Mr William Shakespeare.  


My creative response

Dotty Dolls

'To thine own self be true’ is probably one of my favourite Shakespeare quotes and really made me think about being true to myself and what it means. When I was a child I didn’t live with my birth parents and always felt like a cuckoo in a nest of sparrows. I knew inside that I wasn’t a sparrow and never could be, because I was born with a cuckoo spirit – even though I wasn’t entirely sure what that was I knew it was different from a sparrow spirit. Years later, when I was an adult and had my own children, I met my real brothers and then I knew at once that my cuckoo spirit wasn’t weird, but it was me being 'true to myself’.  

When I came to create an artwork in response to the quote I realised that everyday was different and created a different cuckoo me. It made me think of the Worry Dolls that you put under your pillow, only mine are Dotty Dolls (Dotty is my nickname) and each morning I take one out of the bag and see who I am. Mostly I think that I am the parent, friend and granny doll, but sometimes when I curl up on the sofa with my dog I just feel a part of him, so then I am the dog doll. When I walk early in the morning, particularly this year, I feel a tiny part of nature and then I am the nature doll. There is also a party doll, a child doll and of course, an author and illustrator doll.


What is your favourite Shakespeare quote and why?

I am going to go with this ('This above all, to thine own self be true”) as my favourite Shakespeare quote, because it reminds me of the importance, for our own wellbeing, of being true to ourselves and respecting other people’s right to be true to themselves. Yet another moment when Shakespeare puts a thought into a few short words that has taken me multiple paragraphs and six dolls to say!


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