Margaret Ann Holloway, The Shakespeare Lady

Margaret Holloway: "Gods, Gods, be my witness!" Euripedes' Medea (Photo credit: Mike Franzman)
May 30, 2020

On May 30, 2020, Margaret Ann Holloway (1951–2020), known in New Haven, Connecticut, as the "Shakespeare Lady," died from COVID-19 at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Born to a minister and his wife in Albany, Georgia, she won a scholarship to study at the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Gill, Massachusetts. In the 1970s, she spent a year studying comparative religion at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, before transferring to Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, where she was a drama major. She graduated with a master of fine arts degree, with a triple major in acting, directing, and stage writing, from the Yale School of Drama in 1980.

Before she graduated, though, her professors and classmates began to notice changes in Margaret. She ultimately was diagnosed with schizophrenia and struggled with her demons and drug addiction for the remainder of her life. Yet, on the streets of New Haven, she brought stunning performances of monologues from Shakespeare and Chaucer. Joan Channick, a Yale drama school professor, said that Margaret was a person " connected to people, well-educated, with a love of art and theater, whose life was destroyed by mental illness." She spent her final three years in a nursing home, where she received good care and visitors who talked with her about her passion—theater.

Richard Dailey told her story in a short documentary, God Didn't Give Me a Week's Notice (2001).

Margaret Holloway, the "Shakespeare Lady" of New Haven, Connecticut (Photo credit: Mike Franzman)
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