Fast facts

  • Even though Othello is the title character, Iago has over 1,000 more lines than him. In fact, Iago is second only to Hamlet in having the most lines of Shakespeare’s characters.

  • The words honest and honesty features in the play over 50 times.

  • Many famous phrases originate from Othello, including “the green-eyed monster” (Act 3, Scene 3) and “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve” (Act 1, Scene 1).

  • There are numerous opinions as to what Othello’s ethnic origin is. Original representations were varied, and the term ‘Moor’ was applied to dark-skinned people from Africa, India, Arab nations and even Spain.

  • Although ‘Moors’ do appear in other texts during Shakespeare’s period of writing, it was rare for them to take the title role.

  • The two main original publications of Othello, the First Folio (1623) and the Quarto (1622) are quite different from each other. The Folio has 160 extra lines, and many individual words differ as well.

  • The first professional actress to appear on the English stage was Margaret Hughes in 1660 in the role of Desdemona. This was the year the theatres were reopened after the Restoration.

  • Almost all of Shakespeare’s famous tragedies were rewritten and adapted during the Restoration, except for Othello.

  • In 1968, there was a jazz musical version of Othello in Los Angeles called Catch My Soul, starring Jerry Lee Lewis.

  • The first two productions of Othello in Australia were both in July 1834, in Sydney at the Theatre Royal, and in Launceston, Tasmania.

  • In Disney’s 1992 film Aladdin, the villainous Jafar has an evil sidekick in the form of a macaw named Iago.

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