Fondly Remembering New Haven's 'Shakespeare Lady,' Who Passed This Week

Margaret Holloway, long known in New Haven as “The Shakespeare Lady,” has died of COVID-19. "Shakespeare Lady" was an Elm City legend who'd greet you on the street in the wee hours of the morning, and were you to have a young lady on your arm, make you an offer to recite some Shakespeare (thereby heightening the romance of it all!) in exchange for a few bucks. Yes, she was homeless, but with a smile that could light up the darkest nights, and her Shakespeare was spot-on.

Then the urban myth was born: She was actually brilliant. A Yale grad even. Except for one thing. It was true.

Holloway received her Master's of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama in 1980.

Drug addiction sidelined the clearly very talented and entertaining Holloway, but as of 2009 The New Haven Register did a story on her, and about her newfound sobriety. "I stopped using," she said in Randall Beach's column of 11 years ago. "It was a miracle. It wasn't a court order, probation, nothing. I just stopped. Cold turkey."

I have many, many fond memories of her regaling me with some Shakespeare at midnight in front of Willoughby's. RIP.

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