Discworld Wiki

Wyrd Sisters is Terry Pratchett's sixth Discworld novel, published in 1988, and re-introduces Granny Weatherwax of Equal Rites.

Characters: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick, Verence the Fool

Locations: Lancre

Motifs: Shakespeare, in particular Macbeth, Hamlet, Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III, Henry V and The Tempest

Publication details[]

  • Year of release: 1988
  • Original publisher: Victor Gollancz

Came 135th in the Big Read. One of two books made into an animated film. Adapted as a play by Stephen Briggs.

Plot summary[]

Wyrd Sisters features three witches: Granny Weatherwax; Nanny Ogg, matriarch of a large tribe of Oggs, who owns the most evil cat in the world (Greebo); and Magrat Garlick, the junior witch, who firmly believes in occult jewellery, covens and bubbling cauldrons, much to the annoyance of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg.

King Verence I of Lancre is murdered by his cousin, Duke Felmet, and the King's crown and a baby are given by an escaping servant to the three witches. The witches hand the crown and the child to a troupe of traveling actors, acknowledging that destiny will eventually take its course and the baby - Tomjon - will grow up to defeat Duke Felmet.

However, the kingdom is angry and doesn't want to wait 15 years so the witches move the kingdom forward in time. Meanwhile, the duke has decided to get a play written and performed that is favourable to him so he sends the jester to Ankh-Morpork to recruit the same travelling (now stationary) company that Tomjon is in.

The only problem is that Tomjon does not want to be king. Luckily, the jester turns out to be his brother and he becomes king instead.

Ideas and Themes[]

The plot of Wyrd Sisters is largely an homage to William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth; the book's first line of dialogue is the first line of the play, in similar circumstances ("When shall we three meet again?", spoken by one of three witches on a stormy night). Further references include Duke Felmet's desperate attempts to wash the blood from his hand.

The book also contains references and allusions to Shakespeare's other works, and to Shakespeare's own life. Olwyn Vitoller's acting company builds a theater they name "The Dysk" (after the Globe Theatre), and the company's plays include lines that allude to or are outright borrowed from Shakespeare's works.

The overall theme of Wyrd Sisters concerns the effect words can have on reality. This idea is explicitly stated by the Fool, who says that "the past is what people remember, and memories are words. Who knows how a king behaved a thousand years ago? There is only recollection, and stories." Duke and Lady Felmet then commission a play to serve as propaganda, portraying the witches of Lancre and the former king as evil, and the duke as virtuous.

Popular References and Annotations[]

The text makes references to the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp and Laurel and Hardy; as well as the life and works of William Shakespeare. It borrows themes and sayings from Macbeth, including the "dagger of the mind", the "out damned spot", and the three witches; from Hamlet, including the ghost of the dead King and the play-within-a-play; "all the world's a stage" from As you like it, and from King Lear, with Duke Felmet descending into madness in the company of his Fool. In addition, the company of actors includes a playwright by the name of "Hwel", or "Will", and, at Tomjon's instigation, the company is building a theatre called "The Dysk" in Ankh-Morpork, a reference to the Globe Theatre in London.

The title Wyrd Sisters comes from Macbeth, in which the three witches are sometimes called the weird sisters, e.g. act 2, scene 1: (Banquo) "I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters [...]"; or Act 4, Scene 1: (Macbeth) "Saw you the weird sisters?" (Lennox) "No, my lord." 'Wyrd' is the Norse concept of destiny or fate, as embodied by the Norns (who probably inspired the Witches in Macbeth). Since 'weird' to a modern reader just means 'strange', it's easy to miss the overtones of the title and just assume that it's an Old spelling of 'weird'.

Page 5 (Page 1 - Penguin Edition) - "'When shall we three meet again?'" This line is from Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 1, first line. The entire opening scene of Wyrd Sisters is of course a direct parody of Macbeth's opening scene. The response in Macbeth is not "Well I can do next Tuesday."

Page 5 (Page 1 & 2 - Penguin Edition) - "Gods prefer simple, vicious games, where you Do Not Achieve Transcendence but Go Straight To Oblivion; [...]"

This is a reference to the Chance (or Community Chest) card in Monopoly which states "GO TO JAIL -- Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.". (or 200 pounds, or 200 guilders, or 200 of whatever currency you care to name).

Page 7 (Page 3 - Penguin Edition) - "The junior witch, whose name was Magrat Garlick, relaxed considerably."

Pratchett says: "Magrat is pronounced Magg-rat. Doesn't matter what I think is right -- everyone I've heard pronounce it has pronounced it Maggrat." "In Margaret Murray's book The Witch Cult in Western Europe you will find a number of Magrats and Magrets, and she suggests that they were not misspellings but an earlier form of Margaret; also in the lists of those arraigned for witchcraft are the surnames Garlick, Device and Nutter. No Oggs or Weatherwaxes, though." Magrat would have been called Margaret but her mother couldn't spell it properly. She is the maiden in the coven.

Page 8 (Page 4 - Penguin Edition) - "Meanwhile King Verence, monarch of Lancre, was making a discovery."

There exists a book entitled Servants of Satan, which is about the history of witch hunts. It contains the following paragraph:

"This brings us back to Pierre de Lancre. He became convinced that Basque women where an immoral and unfaithful lot when observing their social arrangements during his witch-hunting expedition. De Lancre was especially horrified at the leadership roles in religious services taken by Basque women, the very women among whom witchcraft was rife..."

Pratchett commented: "I'm astonished. I've never heard of the guy, and I'm reasonably well-read in that area. But it is a lovely coincidence." It may also not be entirely a coincidence that 'Lancre' is a common way of referring to Lancashire, the county where the famous 17th century witch trials were held (see the annotation for p. 57 of Lords and Ladies ).


This is a reference to the famous "Beware the ides of March" warning in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, act 1, scene 2.

Page 14 (Page 9 - Penguin Edition) - "'Can you tell by the pricking of your thumbs?' said Magrat earnestly."

This reference is from Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1: (2 Witch) "By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes [...]". Act 4, Scene 1 is referenced throughout Wyrd Sisters.

Page 19 (Page 15 - Penguin Edition) - "Duke Felmet stared out gloomily at the dripping forest."

Felmet's dislike of the forest resonates with the prophecy foretelling Macbeth had nothing to fear until Birnam wood itself would march against him.

Page 20 (Page 15- Penguin Edition) - "There had been something about him being half a man, and... infirm on purpose?"

Infirm of purpose, is what Lady Macbeth calls her husband in Macbeth, act 2, scene 2.

Page 20 (Page 15- Penguin Edition) - "[...] with nothing much to do but hunt, drink and exercise his droit de seigneur."

'Droit de seigneur' or 'jus primæ noctis' ('right of first night'): a custom alleged to have existed in medieval Europe giving the lord of the land the right to sleep the first night with the bride of any one of his vassals. The medieval marriage fine or merchet has sometimes been interpreted as a payment for waiving the droit du seigneur but it is more likely to be compensation to the lord for the young women leaving his lands. It is now generally accepted that it is a myth and that all references to it are from a later period. In fact, the term itself was first used by Voltaire in his five-act comedy Le droit du seigneur or L'écueil du sage written in 1764. While it is unlkely that "Droit de seigneur" was practice in Europe, the practice was mentioned in The Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia.

Page 21 (Page 17 - Penguin Edition) - "there came a thunderous knocking on the castle door" This line and the subsequent scene are from Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 3; a scene of comic relief involving the drunken Porter, to lessen the tension after the murder of King Duncan.

Page 25 (Page 20 - Penguin Edition) - "'How many times have you thrown a magic ring into the deepest depths of the ocean and then, when you get home and have a nice bit of turbot for your tea, there it is?'"

This line resonates with many in literature, as far back as Herodotus and even in the real world. "The Fish and the Ring" is an English fairy tale collected by Joseph Jacobs in English Fairy Tales which tells the tale of a poor peasant girl who marries the king's son after she retrieves a ring from a fish. Similarly in the Greek legend, Polycrates, the ruler of Samos, dropped a jewel-encrusted ring into the sea in order to escape a reversal of fortune. However, a fisherman caught a large fish that he wished to share with the tyrant. While Polycrates' cooks were preparing the fish for eating, they discovered the ring inside of it. There is also a fish and ring story in one of the miracles of St. Mungo, the Glasgow Patron Saint.In the story, Queen Languoreth of Strathclyde was suspected of infidelity by her husband. King Riderch demanded to see her ring, which he claimed she had given to her lover. In reality the King had thrown it into the River Clyde. Faced with execution she appealed for help to Mungo, who ordered a messenger to catch a fish in the river. On opening the fish, the ring was miraculously found inside, which allowed the Queen to clear her name. There is an almost identical story concerning King Maelgwn of Gwynedd and Saint Asaph. Pratchett uses this reference in Wintersmith as well.

For non-British readers, tea is more than just a cup of tea in Britain. It is any meal taken between about 4:30 and 7:00 pm (North American's supper or dinner time) so it could well include fish (turbot).

Page 25 (Page 20- Penguin Edition) - A sigil is an inscribed or painted symbol considered to have magical power.

Page 25 (Page 20- Penguin Edition) - Nanny Ogg says, "... we've all passed a lot of water since those days" Pratchett is playing with the expression "a lot of water has passed under the bridge" and "passing water" as in urinating.

Page 26 (Page 21 - Penguin Edition) - "'You'd have to be a born fool to be a king,' said Granny." This is the first of many lines of foreshadowing that the fool is in fact destined to be the king.

Page 30 (Page 25- Penguin Edition) - "he thinks he is the prince but he's really the other king's daughter , dressed up as a man." All of Shakespeare's comedies have gender bending roles in them, creating confusion, mistaken identity issues and misplaced love. During Shakespeare's time, all acting roles were played by males.

Page 30 (Page 25- Penguin Edition) - "'All the women are played by men.'" As stated before, in Shakespeare's time this was indeed the case; no women were allowed on stage.

Page 31 (Page 26- Penguin Edition) - "It's a banquet, see," This scene is taken from Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 3.

Page (Page 30- Penguin Edition) - "He'd scrubbed and scrubbed. Scrubbed til he'd screamed." This is another reference to Macbeth, only in Macbeth it is Lady Macbeth, not Macbeth himself who laments about being unable to wash the blood off his hands. Throughout the novel, Felmet takes increasingly drastic measures to get the blood of the king off his hands, all without success.

Page (Page 30- Penguin Edition) - "The Hedgehog Can Never be Buggered at All" is Nanny Ogg's favorite drinking song. Pratchett provided the title and the odd lyric but his fans have written extensive verses and folk singer Heather Wood has written and recorded a song.

Page (Page 34- Penguin Edition) - Magret says, "if we are his godmothers, we ought to have given him three gifts. It's traditional." This and the following lines refer to all the various fairy tales involving fairy godmothers and witches. Spinning wheels refers to Sleeping Beauty or Briar Rose. Pumpkins refers to Cinderella. Being put to sleep by pricking your finger on rose thorns is used in various alternate versions of these and other tales.

Page (Page 34- Penguin Edition) - "A Wizard's Staff has a Knob on the End" is another of Nanny Ogg's bawdy drinking songs.

Page (Page 35- Penguin Edition) - Nanny Ogg says that she knows what the prince will want when he grows up. Her unspoken recommendation reflects her bawdy nature, which Magrat misses completely and Granny Weatherwax disapproves of entirely - reflecting their roles as Mother, Maiden and Crone respectively.

Page (Page 37- Penguin Edition) - "The Duke had.... spent half the night washing his hands" This is a reference to Macbeth in which Lady Macbeth is unable to wash away the blood from the murder of Duncan. Duke Felmet uses increasingly drastic measures to try to clean his hands including using sandpaper, wire brushes and a file so it is not surprising that they keep bleeding, irrespective of the murder of King Verence.

Page (Page 38- Penguin Edition) - The Duke says to the Fool, "Admit it-she offered you hedonistic and licentious pleasure known only to those who dabble in the carnal arts, didn't she?" The Duke is demonstrating the stereotypical misconceptions of witches - wild sexual orgies, etc. Unfounded allegations like these were used during the various witch trials to argue that the women on trial were not good Christians but were in league with the Devil.

Page (Page 40- Penguin Edition) - The Fool's use of the words "Marry", "Nuncle", "Prithee" and "Sirrah" are drawn from Shakespeare, in particular KIng Lear and the Fool's conversations with Lear. This scene has many parallels with King Lear, as Lear descends into madness. "Nuncle" was an abbreviation of "mine uncle". If the noun did not begin with a vowel, the "n" sound in "mine" would be dropped leaving "my" ("my brother" for example). "Marry" is an invocation or interjection. It was originally a mild oath (derived from the Virgin Mary much like "bloody" - by our lady), and it usually means something like “indeed.” It can also be used the way we use “Well…” at the beginning of sentences or even “Listen!” It’s an exclamation that draws attention to whatever follows. “Prithee” is a portmanteau word (it combines two other words) - “pray” (or beseech, or ask), and “thee,” the obsolete informal version of “you”. "Sirrah" is an archaic term used to address inferiors, sometimes as an expression of contempt (but not as familiar). The term appears in several Shakespeare plays, such as Julius Caesar, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Twelfth Night and the Merchant of Venice and Titus Andronicus . It is related to "Sir", even though the social connotation of its use is opposed.

Page 50 (Page 43- Penguin Edition) - "Nanny Ogg also kept a cat, a huge one-eyed grey tom called Greebo [...]" 'Greebo' is a British slang term that was widely used in the early seventies to describe the Hells Angel wannabes and hangers on who dressed in grubby denim and leather with long greasy hair. Since then it has been adapted to refer to punk rock fans.

Page 50 (Page 44- Penguin Edition) - "'Well met by moonlight,' said Magrat politely. 'Merry meet. A star shines on --'" Magrat's first greeting comes from A Midsummer Night's Dream: "Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania". See also the annotation for p. 252 of Lords and Ladies . From Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings comes the Elvish greeting: "A star shines on the hour of our meeting".

Page 50 (Page 44- Penguin Edition) - Nanny Ogg's reply "Wotcha" doesn't quite fit Magrat's idea of the proper language for a coven to use in greeting. The British slang greeting, Wotcha or Wotcher is a contraction of the medieval greeting "What Cheer".

Page 50 (Page 44- Penguin Edition) - "He's the one who sells goldfish that tarnish". The play on words here is that real gold only tarnishes if it is impure; mixed other materials - in other words cheaper and less costly so an inferior product often sold as the real thing. But obviously a goldfish is only gold in name, not makeup.

Page 51 (Page 45- Penguin Edition) - "...Gammer Dismass, and she doesn't get out these days" Gammer Dismass is a witch who is highly skilled with second sight. So skilled that she spends a lot of time in the past and future and doesn't spend much time in the present any more. So she doesn't get out except in her mind. Gammer is an archaic British term for an "old woman" usually used in a derogatory or humorous way; the female equivalent of what "old gaffer" is to males. "Dismas" was the repentant thief who was crucified on the cross beside Jesus. The name comes from the Greek and means "sunset" and is associated with death.

Page 53 (Page 46- Penguin Edition) - "Droit de seigneur" See note Page 20 (Page 15- Penguin Edition). Pratchett provides more detail on what this entails in this section referring to the king"s "great hairy thing". Magrat, ever the Maiden wonders if the king kept pets, while Nanny Ogg, the Mother, tries to get into the details, much to Granny (the Crone) Weatherwax's chagrin..

Page 53 (Page 46- Penguin Edition) - "'Every inch a king,' said Granny." This is a quote from King Lear, Act 4, Scene 6 but given Nanny Ogg's earlier bawdy discussions about what a king needs and does, it also is a double entendre.

Page 55 (Page 48- Penguin Edition) - The Duke says that witches "can't cross running water". It is a common folk legend that water is pure and therefore things that are impure cannot cross it - witches, vampires, the devil, etc.

Page 55 (Page 48- Penguin Edition) - "Lord Felmet's fascination was to him what a pin is to a Purple Emperor". "For those not up on British Lepidopterology. a Purple Emperor is a type of butterfly, so the Fool is feeling like he might be in danger of being skewered.

Page 57 (Page 50- Penguin Edition) - "Orgulous Fogs" Orgulous means proud, haughty, distainful or excessive, not thick. The Latin orgulum means proud, not a thick soup or broth. Pratchett often plays with Dog Latin in this way, creating jokes out of words used incorrectly as he does in the joke which follows.

Page 57 (Page 50- Penguin Edition) - The Fool tells the Duke the following joke

"Why may a caudled fillhorse be deemed the brother to a hiren candle in the night?"

The Duke frowned, The Fool felt it better not to wait.

"Withal, because a candle may be greased, yet a fillhorse be without a fat argier"

The Fool's joke is a good example of Pratchett's approach to much of the humour in his novels. If his joke or pun isn't extremely obvious, it is extremely obscure. It is often not the actual joke that is meant to be funny but how the joke is being told: the language being used [or misused], or even the manner-of-telling comments such as "The Fool felt it better not to wait". In the case of this joke, Pratchett uses very archaic language to create the joke, which makes in completely obscure without doing a lot of research - something that is simply not done with a verbal joke. A joke has to elicit an immediate response from its audience or it fails. The audience can't be expected to take the joke off to the library to figure out the "ah ha!" moment. The main point of this extremely complicated joke is to show that the joke repertoire which all the Fools have to memorize is so poor that no one could possibly understand any of the standard jokes provided to the members of the Fools Guild. In short, by institutionalizing jokes, the Fools Guild has destroyed the spontaneity that makes a joke effective. And the Guild takes this one step further by severely punishing anyone who tries to create new material as the Fool explains to Magret on Page 78 -Penguin Edition.

To analyse the Fool's joke; Caudle is a thin gruel mixed with wine and given to the sick or to women in childbed. A fillhorse or thill horse is a shaft horse (the horse that supports the shafts of the cart. A hirin is a word from Shakespeare's time for a harlot as is Argier which means auger, a tool for boring holes and therefore also slang for a penis. So there is clearly a sexual allusion in the "joke". The caudled fillhorse is a shaft-horse which has been given a recuperative drink. If the harlot's candle is greased, it could have tallow added to make it last longer although this was apparently smellier. You can also "grease a fist" , meaning to pay a bribe for preferential treatment. Pratchett plays with the words 'greased' and 'fat' in the joke.

The punchline "fat argiers" is a Pune, if you give it a Monty Python style outrageous French accent, it gets close to "fatigue"- French for tired.

So, why is a well fed horse like a whores candle?

Answer- With a bit of grease the candle like the horse can keep you riding all night.

While some might argue that such a complex play on words is beyond anything Pratchett likely intended, you have to look at two points. Firstly, Pratchett does similar obscure word play puzzles in other novels. (see Jingo) And secondly, Pratchett (like all good novelists) doesn't just choose words at random, so he clearly intended the words he chose to mean something more than just be nonsense.

Page 58 (Page 51- Penguin Edition) - "'A Wizard of Sorts,' Vitoller read. 'Or, Please Yourself.'"

Please Yourself refers to both As You Like It and the subtitle of Twelfth Night: "Or What You Will".

Page 59 (Page 52- Penguin Edition) - "a foul murder" This is a reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5 in which Hamlet's murdered father's ghost refers to his death as "Murder most foul".

Page 60 (Page 53- Penguin Edition) - the various topics for plays mentioned are all references to Shakespeare's plays. The hunchback King is Richard III, the star crossed lovers are Romeo and Juliet and the comic grave diggers are from Hamlet.

Page 60 (Page 53- Penguin Edition) - "It was the cats and the roller skates that were currently giving him trouble..." This is a reference to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals Cats and Starlight Express.

Page 60 (Page 53- Penguin Edition) - Hwel tells Tomjon, "It hardly fits. Put it back." Clearly Tomjon has put on the real crown, hidden amongst the theatre props; foreshadowing his claim to the throne.

Page 60 (Page 53- Penguin Edition) - "Ramtop people had eighteen different words for snow". This is a reference to the Inuit people who supposedly have 200 words for snow. This is often cited as an urban myth. In fact, the Inuit have about 50 words for snow, the Swedes - 26, Icelandic - 46, the Sami -180 and the Scots an amazing 421.

Page 61 (Page 53- 54 Penguin Edition) - The various examples of winter portents and omens includes trees walking, which resonates with Macbeth and Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane.

Page 61 (Page 53- 54 Penguin Edition) - "However, in Bad Ass a cockerel laid an egg and had to put up with some very embarrassing personal questions."

Legend has it that from an egg laid by a cockerel and hatched by a serpent, a cockatrice (also known as a basilisk) will spawn. Since the cockatrice is a monster with the wings of a fowl, the tail of a dragon, and the head of a cock, whose very look causes instant death, it should be clear that such an egg would be a very bad omen indeed.

Page (Page 54- Penguin Edition) - the snow was "deep and crisped". A reference to the carol Good King Wenceslas in which the snow is "deep and crisp and even".

Page (Page 56- Penguin Edition) - Granny says, "to think she had expected it to be small." This is another reference to the Gaia concept of the world being a single entity. Granny realizes that what is trying to contact her is not the mind of one creature but the kingdom itself.

Page (Page 58- Penguin Edition) - Duke Felmet says, "Is this a dagger I see before me?" to which the Fool replies, "No, my lord. It's my handkerchief". Pratchett is playing with the famous line from Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 1.

Page (Page 58- Penguin Edition) - Duke Felmet says "Kneel beside me, my Fool." This scene resonates with King Lear and his descent into madness.

Page 68 (Page 60- Penguin Edition) - "The stone was about the same height as a tall man, [...]"

This is a reference to the King Stone, a tall monolith considered to be part of the Rollright Stones complex near Long Compton in the UK. According to legend, the Rollright stones can not be accurately counted, and a different tally will result each time an attempt is made.

Page 69 (Page 61- Penguin Edition) - "...compared to an unbelievable variety of other animals, the hedgehog was quite fortunate." This is obviously another reference to Nanny Ogg's favorite drinking song, The Hedgehog Can Never be Buggered at All" (see annotation for page 30 Penguin Edition).

Page (Page 62- Penguin Edition) - "Granny ....place a meaningful finger alongside her nose." This resonates with the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" who "lays a finger aside of his nose". This British cultural signal is a sign of secrecy or conspiracy, like saying “keep quiet about it or don't spread it around”.

Page (Page 63- Penguin Edition) - Granny refers to the grimmers that Magret brings, meaning grimoires. The term grimoire likely originated from the Old French word grammaire, which had initially been used to refer to all books written in Latin. By the 18th century, the term had gained its now common usage in France, and had begun to be used to refer purely to books of magic. Grimmer on the other hand refers to one being sterner or harsh and unyielding.

Page (Page 64- Penguin Edition) - "Nanny quite liked demons, who were male, or apparently so." Not surprisingly, Nanny as the Mother has a preference for Demons while Granny, as Crone does not.

Page (Page 64- Penguin Edition) - The whole scene where the three witches call up the demon pokes fun at all the pseudo witch world since instead of using magically inspired objects, they use everyday household objects, pretending that they are magically inspired.

(Page 65 - Penguin Edition) - The Demon says, "You are allowed three wishes". This line follows the standard genie and the lamp fable and fairy tales where you are given three tasks, three chances or three wishes which usually turn out badly because you phrase the wish so that it is open to interpretation by the Demon/genie/fairy godmother/etc. The list is endless but some examples includes "The Sausage", W.W. Jacob's The Monkey's Paw, and E Nesbit's trilogy involving the Psammead.

Page 75 - (Page 66 - Penguin Edition) - "A faint glow beyond the frosted panes suggested that, against all reason, a new day would soon dawn."

The first scene of the first act of Shakespeare's Hamlet starts at midnight, and describes a scene lasting about fifteen minutes -- yet the act ends at dawn. Likewise, the summoning of WxrtHltl-jwlpklz the demon takes place at night, but ends with the quote given above.

Page (Page 68- Penguin Edition) - "it'd be a mind made up of all the other little minds inside it; tree minds, bird minds, bear minds, even the great slow minds of the trees themselves...." This is another Gaia reference but also foreshadows the overthrow of Duke Felmet with the hint about the Macbeth Act 5, Scene 3 involving Birnam Wood moving against the King. This is reinforced in the following line when Granny comments that "the forest was a thing in itself. Alive..."

Page (Page 69- Penguin Edition) - Systolic refers to the blood pressure when the heart is contracting - heart beat.

(Page 69 - Penguin Edition) - "There were only three times in your life when it was proper to come through the front door, and you were carried every time." The three times are when you are born and carried as a baby, when you are married and carried as a bride and when you die and are carried by your pallbearers.

Page 80 - (Page 70 -71 - Penguin Edition) - The scene involving the animals in the field around Granny Weatherwax's house resonates with the Gaia hypotheses that the world in interconnected and behave as a single sentient entity.

Page 80 - (Page 71 - Penguin Edition) - "You wouldn't know what an heir was, unless you thought it was a sort of rabbit." Pratchett mixes the complex puns and jokes with the simple. In this case a play on the words "Heir" (the person who inherits or succeeds the deceased) and "hare" a rabbit.

Page 81 - (Page 72 - Penguin Edition) - Tomjon's speech resonates with the speech from Hamlet "something's rotten in the state of Denmark".

Page 80 - (Page 71 - Penguin Edition) - Latty and Lattys - This is mid 19th century theatrical slang for a bed. From the Italian 'letto', it's also in the form 'letty'.[1] It is also supposedly Romany for an apartment or home, all of which apply to a caravan.

Page 80 - (Page 72 - Penguin Edition) - The play Please Yourself is a play on Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It.

Page 82 (Page 74 - Penguin Edition) - "[...] the Twins, toddling hand in hand along the midnight corridors, [...]"

The twins resonate with the little princes (sons of Edward IV) murdered at the behest of Richard III to prevent their claim to the throne; a theme used by Shakespeare in his play Richard III. The same image can also be found in Stanley Kubrick's classic horror movie The Shining, where the ghosts of two small girl twins (who were horribly murdered in a 'dark deed') walk hand in hand through the corridors of the Overlook Hotel.

Page 84 (Page 75 - Penguin Edition) - "[...] its eyes two yellow slits of easy-going malevolence [...]" Greebo was said to have only one eye earlier in the novel and here he has two. This was thought to be an inconsistency until Pratchett explained that: "Greebo is loosely modelled on a real cat I knew when I was a kid -- he had two eyes, but one was sort of pearly coloured. He's blind in one eye."

Page 88 (Page 78 - Penguin Edition) - The Fool was given "the biggest thrashing of his life" and is told "Never let me catch you joculating again." The Fool is remembering his childhood, how serious a business being a Fool is and how strict his father was. There is no such word as "joculating'. Pratchett is playing with the word "jocular" and "ejaculating" here; the latter being a reason for a father to thrash his son in bygone times.

Page 88 (Page 78 - Penguin Edition) - "The Monster Fun Book" is a play on the Roundworld children's book "The Monster Book for Tinies" published in 1947. Pratchett uses a similar reference to a book of Grimoires' in Mort.

Page 88 (Page 79 - Penguin Edition) - "Magrat was picking flowers and talking to them."

What follows is a satire of the mad Ophelia in Hamlet: "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies, that's for thoughts." Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5). Ophelia's herbs are all for positive thoughts and emotions whereas Magrat's are all cures for various unpleasant illnesses and diseases.

Page (Page 81 - Penguin Edition) - The old king had no time for "shopkeepers and such". Pratchett has used the shopkeeper reference in other novels. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came from a family of shopkeepers.

Page (Page 82 - Penguin Edition) - "...a living ideal Made up of everything that's alive and what they're thinking. And what the people before them thought." Pratchett expands on the Gaia concept for the Kingdom of Lancre.

Page (Page 83 - Penguin Edition) - The Fool's mother "was a Beldame, from over Blackgrass way...Bit of a beauty...Broke many a heart...Bit of a scandal..."

This is more foreshadowing that the Fool's father was not a Fool after all but the King and therefore the rightful heir to the throne.

Page (Page 83 - Penguin Edition) - "It's a steady job," said Nanny in regard to the Fool's employment. This is a jab at the standard line parents supposedly say about prospective son-in-laws gainful employment; the occupation of "Fool" being a bit atypical.

Page 93 (Page 84 - Penguin Edition) - Granny replies that "A man who tinkles all day (is) no kind of husband for anyone.." Pratchett is playing with the word "tinkle" which in the Fool's case implies "bells" but in the usual context of the phrase implies "someone who is incontinent".

Page 93 (Page 84 - Penguin Edition) - Nanny and Granny's argument about marriage vs staying single is another example of the "Crone" vs "Mother" nature of two parts of the coven.

Page 95 (Page 86 - Penguin Edition) - Tossing an apple peel over the shoulder was an old Halloween tradition to determine the initial of your future husband. In this case, Magrat finds that it "worked" and although she does not say so at the time, the initial is a "V".

Page 95 (Page 86 - Penguin Edition) - "It's all very well calling for eye of newt, but do you mean Common, Spotted or Great Crested?" Eye of Newt is one of the ingredients used by the witches in Macbeth, act 4, scene 1 but Pratchett gives it a very Monty Pythonesque twice with the question of what type of newt. The scene resonates with the famous running gag in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

Bridgekeeper: "What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?"
Arthur: "What do you mean? An African or European swallow?"
Bridgekeeper: "Huh? I -- I don't know that! Auuuuuuuugh!"

Page (Page 88 - Penguin Edition) - "The books said that the old-time witches sometimes danced in their shifts. Magrat had wondered how you danced in shifts. Perhaps there wasn't room for them all to dance at once, she thought." Pratchett is punning with the English word "shift" which is an old term for a long, loose fitting undergarment and "shift" meaning one of two or more recurring periods in which different groups of workers do the same jobs in relay such as "the night shift"

Page (Page 88 - Penguin Edition) - As stated "skyclad" refers to dancing naked which was believed to be common among witches performing their rituals - another sign of their immorality and debauchery according to the establishment and the church.

Page (Page 90 - Penguin Edition) - Nanny asks, "What's that big wardrobe thing with the spikes?" As Duke Felmet explains, it is of course an Iron Maiden, which was a medieval torture implement. The victim was placed inside and the door was closed, impaling him on the spikes. The Patrician has his own version which is mentioned in several of the Moist Von Lipwig novels which involves kittens.

Page (Page 91 - 94 - Penguin Edition) - The other torture implements include the rack which was a bed with a windlass to which the victim was attached and slowly stretched until their bones dislocated. Pillywinks or pirewinkes which was an instrument of torture for squeezing the thumbs hence thumbscrew, and the choke pear, pear of anguish, or mouth pear, which was a torture device that consists of a pear-shaped metal body divided into spoon-like segments that could be spread apart with a spring or by turning a key. As an instrument of torture it was supposedly inserted into the mouth, rectum, or vagina, and then expanded to gag or mutilate the victim. There is some doubt as to whether it was actually used as indicated however. It may have been used by thieves as a gag to stop their victim from crying out.

Page (Page 95 - Penguin Edition) - the peasant says, "I know my rights" and then proceeds to list them; Dunnage, cowhage-in-ordinary, badinage, leftovers, scrommidge, clary and spunt as well as acornage. None of these items listed is actually a right. Dunnage is loose wood, matting, or similar material used to keep a cargo in position in a ship's hold or a person's effects brought on board a ship. Cowage is a leguminous climbing plant, Mucuna pruriens, with hairy pods that cause stinging and itching. Badinage is humorous or witty conversation. Leftovers are something, especially food, remaining after the rest has been used or consumed. After that Pratchett just gets completely silly with the "rights" as scrommidge, clary and spunt have no meaning and acornage is a created word suggesting the right to a certain number of acorns off the oak tree every two years.

Page 107 (Page 96 - Penguin Edition) - "The apple seller's gambit had never worked more than once in the entire history of witchcraft". Pratchett is playing with the idea of witchcraft being like a chess game. A gambit is a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position. This is used in reference to the fairy tale Snow White in which the wicked queen disguises herself as an apple seller to get Snow White to bite the poisoned apple.

Page 107 (Page 96 - Penguin Edition) - "this valley of tears" This is a reference to the Bible. "Vale of tears" (Latin: vallis lacrimarum) is a Christian phrase referring to the tribulations of life that Christian doctrine says are left behind only when one leaves the world and enters Heaven. The phrase appears in some translations of Psalm 84:6, which describes those strengthened by God's blessing: "As they pass through the valley of tears (Hebrew: עֵמֶק הַבָּכָא), they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools".

Page 108 (Page 97 - Penguin Edition) - "Can no orders of mine be obeyed? (Duke Felmet) screamed. "Infirm of purpose! Weak! Give me the box (of matches)" This line resonates with Macbeth Act 2, Scene 2 when Lady Macbeth says: Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead Are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood That fears a painted devil. Pratchett puts a silly twist on it though as Lady Macbeth is referring to the dagger and murder weapon whereas Duke Felmet is referring to a box of matches.

Page 108 (Page 98 - Penguin Edition) - "if it's to be done, it's better if it's done quickly" This line parallels Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 7: "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly."

Page 109 (Page 98 - Penguin Edition) - "Granny glanced around the dungeon." This is another misprint: it should be Nanny, not Granny. Pratchett says the error is not present in his own version of the text, but both the UK and USA paperbacks have it.

Page 110 (Page 99 - Penguin Edition) - "make a sign to ward off the evil eyeshadow". Pratchett is playing with the idea of warding off the evil eye; in this case Magrat is so bad at applying mascara and makeup that the eyeshadow becomes more of a threat than the evil eye.

Page (Page 100- Penguin Edition) - The guard says to Magrat, "Come to keep us company, have you, my pretty?" As Pratchett points out in the footnote, this is the kind of line that evil men with evil intent use on innocent virgins throughout literature and movies. This trope has been a staple of movies ever since the early days of cinema, but it's a lot older than that. There are several examples in Shakespeare's works—most notably, of course, The Rape Of Lucrece, but others go back to Ramayana. The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz says, "I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too."

Page (Page 102 - Penguin Edition) - Magrat says to the guard, "You're wondering whether I really would cut your throat...I don't know either. Think of the fun we could have together, finding out." Pratchett uses variations on Clint Eastwood's line from Dirty Harry regularly throughout his novels.

Page (Page 103 - Penguin Edition) - Through the trick of throwing an apple peeling over your shoulder so that it spells out a name, Magrat has learned that the Fool's name is Verence - the same name as the old king; a broad hint that the Fool is the King's son.

Page (Page 103 - Penguin Edition) - "All trees were one tree" Again the references to the Gaia theory.

Page (Page 107 - Penguin Edition) - Felmet says to the witches, "any king raised with your help would be under your power. Hagridden, I might say." This is a clever play on the word on Pratchett's part. Hagridden means "afflicted by nightmares or anxieties" but it also has connotations to its original meaning - ridden by witches (ie bedeviled or tormented by witches) which in the novel would be the case.

Page (Page 107 - Penguin Edition) - Duke Felmet says, "You could find someone to replace me. But he would have to be a fool indeed..." More foreshadowing about the Fool becoming the King.

Page (Page 107 - Penguin Edition) - Nanny Ogg suggests giving Duke Felmet hemorrhoids so that he has to rule standing up "that or piles". In fact, both are the same thing.

Page (Page 107 - Penguin Edition) - The Fool suggests meeting Magrat in the meadow with the line, "I'll wear something so you recognize me." Pratchett pokes fun at the blind dating rituals of wearing a carnation or rose or carrying a book or wearing a particular colour of dress so that the other person will recognize the date. Obviously someone wearing a cap with jingling bells like the Fool doesn't need any other identifier.

Page (Page 109 - Penguin Edition) - "Several sellers of hot meat pies and sausage in a bun had appeared from nowhere" Readers of other Discworld novels will immediately think of CMOT Dibbler, Ankh-Morporks famous purveyor of dubious meat pies and other cons.

Page (Page 112- Penguin Edition) - "He's a very clever man, that Fool. He ought to have been one of those actor fellows." This is another hint about the connection between the Fool and Tomjon (the lead actor fellow).

Page (Page 113- Penguin Edition) - Sister Grodley clearly fancies herself as a higher class witch than the rest since she drops her "haitches" and put "antimassacres on the back of chairs as soon as you sit down" This is another of Pratchett's plays on words which is easy to miss. Granny clearly means "antimacassars" which are pieces of cloth used to protect furniture from grease, hair oil, etc. "Antimassacres" if it were a real word would mean "being opposed to mass murder".

Page (Page 113- Penguin Edition) - "Wizards assassinated each other in draughty corridors, witches just cut one another dead in the street" Pratchett here plays with a couple of concepts: firstly, the common idea that men and women "fight" differently - men just resorting to physical violence and women using words to achieve the same end. He reinforces this by using language in the second part which literally means the same thing as assassinate - to kill someone, but which figuratively is an expression for "pretending the person doesn't exist".

Page (Page 114- Penguin Edition) - The dead king "craves a boon" of Granny. This expression is an archaic one often seen in fairy tales where someone is requesting a favour from someone (usually a magical personage). The Grimms fairy tale Fisherman and his Wife are an example.

Page 127 (Page 115- Penguin Edition) - Granny says that "destiny is tricky" which is a hint that all the foreshadowing about Tomjon being destined to become king may in fact not work out the way it should.

Page 127 (Page 115- Penguin Edition) - The king is happy that Tomjon has been placed with a family of Thespians, believing that this is a country when as Magrat constantly tries to explain the word simply means "actor".

Page 128 (Page 116- Penguin Edition) - "anyone who thought that ditchwater was dull could have spent an instructive half-hour in that ditch with a powerful microscope." Pratchett is using the original version of the expression. The original simile, "dull as ditchwater", dating from the 1700s, alluded to the muddy water in roadside ditches. In the first half of the 1900s, perhaps through mispronunciation, it became dishwater, that is, the dingy, grayish water in which dirty dishes had soaked.

Page 128 (Page 116- Penguin Edition) - "rose from the ditch like Venus Anadyomene, only older and with more duckweed."

Venus Anadyomene is the classical image of Venus rising from the sea (from which she was born), accompanied by dolphins. The name is given to the famous lost painting by Apelles, as well as to the one by Botticelli in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Page (Page 118- Penguin Edition) - "By Hoki, that woman's got a joaw like an anvil" Hoki is the Ramtops god of practical jokes with the attributes of Roundworld's Pan.

Page (Page 119- Penguin Edition) - "Fool, you shall have a knighthood". This kind of play on words is typical of Shakespeare, from which Pratchett draws. And in typical Pratchett and Shakespeare fashion the joke is explained ad infinitum. Night hood being a cap to wear at night to keep your head warm and Knighthood is obviously an honour given to a worthy supporter by a king. The part of the joke that Felmet cuts off is clearly going to say that if many Knights are fools why can't a Fool be a knight.

Page (Page 120 - Penguin Edition) - The conversation between the Fool and the Duchess regarding massaging the message of something like cutting down all the forests so that the people think it is a good thing, is a common one in Pratchett's novels who has no use for Roundworld political spin doctors.

Page 133 (Page 121- Penguin Edition) - "'I have no recollection of it at this time,' he murmured."

Duke Felmet is echoing the words of White House officials under questioning by Senate Committees during the Watergate affair in the 1970s and the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s.

Page 134 (Page 122 - Penguin Edition) - the storm grateful for a chance to whirl a farmhouse to any available emerald city of its choice is an obvious reverence to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (published 1900) and the subsequent 1939 film starring Judy Garland.

Page 134 (Page 122 - Penguin Edition) - "the truth will out" This line meaning "truth will eventually be discovered and is from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.

Page 136 (Page 124 - Penguin Edition) - Queen Grimner the Impaler, Lancre's only vampire ruler is an obvious reference to the Transylvanian ruler Vlad the Impaler who was the model for Count Dracula. GRIMNER (GROWTH RESPIRATION INNABILITY MOVEMENT NUTRITION EXCRETION and REPRODUCTION) is evidently an acronym to distinguish living from non-living things. A vampire is "undead" so the question remains whether it is living or non-living.

Page 138 (Page 125 - Penguin Edition) - Nanny Ogg says "you send him a doll of himself with pins in it .... get hold of some toenails" The former is a standard depiction of practitioners of voodoo using a replica of the victim to inflict disease and pain on the victim himself. The latter is a witchcraft concept where the witch uses a part of the victim's body (hair, toenails) to do the same thing.

Page 139 (Page 127 - Penguin Edition) - "'I mean, Black Aliss was one of the best.'" Pratchett is likely drawing on Black Annis (also known as Black Agnes or Black Anna) who is a bogeyman figure in English folklore. She is imagined as a blue-faced hag or witch with iron claws and a taste for human flesh (especially children). She is said to haunt the countryside of Leicestershire, living in a cave in the Dane Hills with a great oak tree at the entrance, venturing out at night looking for unsuspecting children and lambs to eat, then tanning their skins by hanging them on a tree before wearing them around her waist.

Page 139 (Page 127 - Penguin Edition) - "Doyenne (of witches)... not hoyden" says Granny Weatherwax. Doyenne is a woman who is the most respected or prominent person in a particular field. A hoyden is a girl or woman of saucy, boisterous, or carefree behavior. Black Aliss clearly did not fall into the traditional sense of the latter.

Page 139 (Page 127 - Penguin Edition) - Black Aliss "turned a pumpkin into a royal coach once". This is a reference to the fairy tale Cinderella.

Page 139 (Page 127 - Penguin Edition) - Black Aliss sent "a whole palace to sleep for a hundred years". This is a reference to the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty or Briar Rose.

Page 139 (Page 127 - Penguin Edition) - "Girl meets Frog" is a classic plot device in fairy tales such as the Frog Prince.

Page 140 (Page 128 - Penguin Edition) - "It's like rubber, is time. You can stretch it to suit yourself." This line resonates with the images associated with Einstein's theory of relativity in which space and time are shown being warped like a sheet of rubber by the gravity of objects.

Page 142 (Page 129 - Penguin Edition) - "Greebo's grin gradually faded, until there was nothing left but the cat. This was nearly as spooky as the other way round." This is a reference to the Cheshire cat in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which is famous for slowly vanishing until only its grin remains.

Page 143 (Page 130 - Penguin Edition) - "You could tell which direction the Hub lay by seeing which side of the trees the moss grew on. A quick inspection of the nearby trunks indicated that, in defiance of all normal geography, the Hub lay everywhere." In the Roundworld, you can tell which way north lies by seeing which side of the trees the moss grows on. And just as in the Fool's case, this is not a hard and fast rule because moss simply likes the damper, shadier side so other factors in a forest can influence this.

Page 145 (Page 132 - Penguin Edition) - The two gods that haunt the Ramtops, Hoki and Herne the Hunted are based on Roundworld mythological figures. Hoki is based on the Greek god Pan who is also half man and half goat and a practial joker. Herne the Hunted is based on Herne the Hunter who is a medieval spirit that haunts Windsor Forest in Berkshire. He was supposedly a keeper in Windsor Forest. Like Herne the Hunted, Herne the Hunter is distinguished by his antlers. In keeping with the themes of Wyrd Sisters his namesake plays a part in Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor. As well as in Shakespeare, Herne the Hunter has also appeared in the ITV television series "Robin of Sherwood" (starring Jason "son of" Connery).

When alt.fan.pratchett readers mistakenly assumed that the reference originated from this series, Pratchett cautioned: "Be careful when reference spotting... Herne the Hunter certainly did turn up in the Robin of Sherwood series and on an album by "Let's breathe romantically to music" group Clannad, but any passing pagan will tell you he goes back a lot, lot further than that." Herne the Hunter / Cernunnos isa God of green and growing things; huntsman, spirit of earth, birth and masculinity. Often pictured seated cross-legged with antlers on his brow, he is [...] the tutelary deity of many modern witch covens.

Herne the Hunter also appears himself in Lords and Ladies.

Page (Page 136 - Penguin Edition) - The Fool explains the horrors of his childhood and joking. The role of Fool was a complex on in Shakespeare's day. The king/queen was all powerful and ruled by divine right. High ranking nobles could and were put to death for expressing opinions that were contrary to the Crown. The Fool's role was to state those opinions so that the Crown got a balanced view of issues facing the monarch, without drawing the ire of the monarch to the extent of losing their life - in effect acting as the conscience of the monarch and nation. So the role called for skillfully balancing speaking your mind with toadying to the monarch in a humorous fashion.

Page (Page 137 - Penguin Edition) - "There was laughter which paid no attention to the Five Cadences or Twelve Inflections". The Fool is explaining how regimented and formal joke telling is in the Guild by explaining that it had to conform to the dictated structure. In music, the Five Cadences are: perfect, imperfect, plagal, deceptive and half cadence. There are nine, not twelve inflections in Roundworld and Pratchett does not explain what the extra three in Discworld are. In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation in which a word is modified to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number, gender, mood, animacy, and definiteness. The inflection of verbs is called conjugation, and one can refer to the inflection of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, determiners, participles, prepositions and postpositions, numerals, articles, etc., as declension.

Page (Page 137 - Penguin Edition) - "The Monster Fun Book" is a play on the Roundworld children's book "The Monster Book for Tinies" published in 1947. Pratchett uses a similar reference to a book of Grimoires' in Mort.

Page (Page 137 - Penguin Edition) - "The Lords of Misrule" In England a Lord of Misrule was an officer appointed by lot during Christmastide to preside over the Feast of Fools. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant or sub-deacon appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying. In Scotland he was known as the Abbot of Unreason and in France as the Prince des Sots (Fools).

Page (Page 138 - Penguin Edition) - "I thought they would (treat Magret as one of the witches) after I did that spell in the corridor. It was pretty good, after all" said Magret. To which the Fool , unable to stop himself, replies "Marry, t'was a rite of passage." Pratchett through the Fool is playing with the double meaning of passage in the sense of it being a hallway or corridor and also a transformation from one level of expertise to a higher plane as when Magret changes the door into a living tree.

Page (Page 138 - Penguin Edition) - The Fool asks Magret if he kisses her will he turn into a frog. This is a reversal on the common fairy tale theme such as found in the Frog Prince where a wicked witch has turned the handsome prince into a frog and only the kiss of a princess will release him.

Page (Page 139 - Penguin Edition) - "Blue smoke was pouring out of Granny's broomstick but she hung on, determined, and forced it around." Pratchett is using imagery that is normally associated with aerial combat movies from Top Gun to the Battle of Britain.

Page 156 (Page 143 - Penguin Edition) - "[...] trying to find a laboratory opposite a dress shop that will keep the same dummy in the window for sixty years, [...]"

This refers to the 1960 movie version of H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, where the director uses the effect described to indicate the rapid passing of time.

Page 158 (Page 145 - Penguin Edition) - "He'd sorted out the falling chandelier, and found a place for a villain who wore a mask to conceal his disfigurement, [...]" This is a reference to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, The Phantom of the Opera. See also the annotations for Maskerade.

Page 159 (Page 145 - Penguin Edition) - "[...] the hero had been born in a handbag." The protagonist in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest was found, as a baby, in a handbag.

Page 159 (Page 145 - Penguin Edition) - "It was the clowns who were giving him trouble again." The clowns are the Marx Brothers. The third clown is Harpo, who never speaks, only honks ("business with bladder on a stick"). The short speech that follows, "This iss My Little Study..." is typical Groucho, and the "Atsa right, Boss" is Chico.

Page 159 (Page 146 - Penguin Edition) - "Thys ys amain Dainty Messe youe have got me into, Stanleigh" Laurel & Hardy. Laurel's first name was Stan. See also the annotation for p. 73 of The Colour of Magic .

Page 160 (Page 147 - Penguin Edition) -The famous Globe Theatre (which was octagonal in form) was built by Cuthbert Barbage on the Bankside in Southwark (London) in 1599. Shakespeare had a share in the theatre and acted there. The Globe was destroyed by fire, rebuilt, and eventually completely demolished in 1644. In 1997, a new reconstruction called 'Shakespeare's Globe Theatre' opened on Bankside, a few hundred yards from its original site.

Page 162 (Page 148- Penguin Edition) - "All the Disc is but an Theater.... ane alle men and wymmen are but Players". As Hwell develops the play within the play, he tries out a series of phrases that have their origins in various Shakespeare plays. This one is the famous line from As You Like It" Act II Scene VII: "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely Players". The following line "All Persons strut as Players" is derived from Mqcbeth Act V, Scene V: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more." Pratchett uses this soliloquy again in his reference to "Tomorrow" See Page 236 (Page 218 - Penguin Edition).

The concept of a play within a play (or a story within a story) comes from the French saying mise en abyme, or “placed into abyss. It is a common device in Shakespeare's works, used in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and, most importantly, Hamlet which Pratchett is drawing on in Wyrd Sisters. In Hamlet , the play within a play is called The Murder of Gonzago and, as in Wyrd Sisters, it is used to influence and develop the plot by reflecting on the real circumstances of the King's murder so that the murder is punished and justice is served.

Page 163 (Page 149 - Penguin Edition) - "I had this dream about a little bandy-legged man walking down a road." Clearly, Hwel is dreaming of Charlie Chaplin.

Page 164 (150 - Penguin Edition) - "if it didn't have a custard pie in it.... it wasn't funny." A custard pie to the face (or a 'pie-ing') was popularised in British music halls, particularly by king of music hall slapstick Fred Karno. The first custard pie to the face in cinema was in 1909's 'Mr. Flip'. It has been a staple of slapstick comedy ever since.

Page 164 (150 - Penguin Edition) - "Roister doister' originates from a 16th century comic play by Nicholas Udal, Ralph Roister Doister. It means a swaggering buffoon wo engages in riotous behaviour.

Page 164 (150 - Penguin Edition) - his hat "had a feather in it." There are many references to feathers in hats; the song Yankee Doodle for one. To have a feather in your cap means to be recognized for doing something well (in Tomjon's case he is an incredible actor). This term stems from when knights of old were recognized for bravery on the battlefield by being awarded plumes for their helmets.

Page 164 (Page 150- Penguin Edition) -"Exactly how does one quaff?" Hwell isn't far off when he suggests you spill most of it when drinking. Quaff means to drink heartily (usually an alcoholic beverage) and that is likely to involve spillage after a few.

Page 165 (Page 151- Penguin Edition) - "'I said, where's your pointy hat, dopey?'"

Dopey is one of the seven dwarfs in Walt Disney's animated Snow White. Pratchett plays with the Disney's dwarf names, throughout his novels. See for instance the annotation for p. 324 of Moving Pictures . The lawn ornament with the fishing pole is a a speciesist slur - humans placing plaster of Paris lawn ornaments of dwarfs with fishing poles on their lawns in both Roundworld and Discworld. This slur is used again on Page 156 Penguin Edition.

Page 165 (Page 151- Penguin Edition) - The orangutan librarian from Unseen University is a being from Category C. A couple of pages earlier there is a reference to people from Category A, people to be frightened of and Category B, people to frighten and mentions that, of the 100 mouths in the place, 99 were trying to figure out which category Tomjon and Hwell fell into. The orangutan is of course not a person (although he once was before being transformed into an orangutan) and is clearly the one hundreth mouth - the one who doesn't care.

Page 167 (Page 153- Penguin Edition) - "Is it real roistering.... or merely rollicking?" Both are synonymous.

Page 167 (153 - Penguin Edition) -"'Brothers! And yet may I call all men brother, for on this night --'" This is based on the St Crispin's Day speech from King Henry V. See the annotation for Page 239 (Page 231 Penguin Edition).

Page 168 (Page 154 - Penguin Edition) - "What would the last King of Ankh have said to a pack of ragged men who knew they were outnumbered, outflanked and out generalled?" He would have said the St. Crispin's day speech above from Henry V. Here and in the following line about these drunks being motivated to storm the Patrician's palace, Pratchett is commenting on the power of words in the mouth of a dynamic leader; something Roundworld has seen both as a positive in people like Winston Churchill exhorting Britain to stand its ground and as a negative in Adolf Hitler motivating his people to attack the Jews.

Page 168 (Page 155 - Penguin Edition) - "Low dives are they?" says Tomjon. Pratchett is making an obvious play on a pub for dwarfs not needing the same headroom as for a taller human as well as a "low dive" being a place that most respectable people would avoid.

Page 170 (Page 156 - Penguin Edition) - "[...] go around with axes in their belts, and call themselves names like Timkin Rumbleguts." This is a sarcastic comment on the behaviour of most generic fantasy dwarfs, but of course the main image it invokes is of classic Tolkien characters like Thorin Oakenshield, etc.

Page 171 (Page 157 - Penguin Edition) - The scene involving J.H. 'Flannelfoot' Boggis and Nephews pokes fun at the whole legal system in the Roundworld, where the 'lawyer' uses words to twist things so that the thieves actually pay their victims a service fee - reinforcing Pratchett's common idea that the lawyers are the real thieves.

Page 173 (Page 159 - Penguin Edition) - "after you gave them that speech about the rights of man". This is a reference to Thomas Payne's well known polemic called The Rights of Man which was published in 1791 and 1792. It posits that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard the natural rights of its people.

Page 173 (Page 159 - Penguin Edition) - "'We've got a special on GBH this season.'" The abbreviation GBH stands for Grievous Bodily Harm.

Page 174 (Page 160 - Penguin Edition) - Hwell "stared at the two figures. HIs mouth stayed open." This is another bit of foreshadowing that the Fool and Tomjohn are in fact related because they look alike - it is not a "Trick of the light."

Page 169 (Page 161 - Penguin Edition) - "Grabpot Thundergust" is another comment on the behaviour of most generic fantasy dwarfs such as the classic Tolkien characters like Thorin Oakenshield, etc. See annotation for Page 169 (Page 156 - Penguin Edition).

Page 169 (Page 161 - Penguin Edition) - "There was this girl and this fellow, but she was married to this old man there was this other fellow, and they said he'd died, and she pined away and took poison, but then it turned out this man was the other man really....Everyone died in the end". The various parts of the plot resonate with most Shakespeare plays, whether tragedy or comedy. The patrons in the bar are surprised to find that Tomjon has played the fair maiden. In Shakespeare's day, women were not allowed to perform on stage so all female parts were played by men or boys.

Page 170 (Page 162 - Penguin Edition) - "Nah, he thought. Coincidence." This is another bit of foreshadowing that Tomjon and the Fool are related.

Page 178 (Page 164- Penguin Edition) - "The pay's the thing." This is pun on the well-known Shakespeare quote from Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2:

The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king      

Page 178 (Page 164- Penguin Edition) - "'I've got this idea about this ship wrecked on an island, where there's this--'" This is a reference to Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Page 181 (Page 166-67- Penguin Edition) - "Round about the cauldron go, [...]" This scene is a parody of Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1, in which the three witches boil up a wide selection of horrible things in their cauldron. All the key items in the Macbeth version have been changed by Magret in the Wyrd Sisters version in the interest of modernizing, being more politically correct or animal friendly - the modern witch. The 'toad', 'fenny snake' and "newt" have been replaced with vegetable protein, whole grains and lentils. "Gruel, thick and slab" which is a thick porridge becomes "slab and grue". Grue means to shudder or shiver.

Page 182 (Page 167- Penguin Edition) - "Double hubble, stubble trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bub---" The witches in Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1 say: "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire, burn; and, cauldron, bubble" which, while sounding mystical and like a chant also literally mean that twice (double) the amount of trouble will now be brought on Macbeth for killing everyone on his way to the crown. The Wyrd Sister witches's words on the other hand suggest two hookahs (hubble bubble) or a heap or pile (Scots and Northern English - hubble) and a problem with the cuttings left in a field after the harvest.

Page 182 (Page 167- Penguin Edition) - "Tiger's chaudron" is in both versions. A chaudron is a large pot for boiling things, especially used by witches. An antiquated word for a cauldron.

Page 182 (Page 167- Penguin Edition) - "He punched the rock-hard pillow, and sank into a fitful sleep. Perchance to dream." This line is taken from the famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy in Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1.

Page 183 (Page 168- Penguin Edition) - "KING: Now if I could just find my horsey..." This line and the ones that follow including the crossings out are based on British pantomime with its audience participation (Oh, no it isn't! Oh, yes it is!) Pratchett uses this form again when the play within the play is actually performed. This section is based on Act 5, Scene 4 of Shakespeare's Richard III - "a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse."

Page 184 (Page 169- Penguin Edition) - "Is this a duck I see before me, its beak pointing at me?"

Macbeth, act 2, scene 1 again. See the annotation for p. 65.Page 183 (Page 169- Penguin Edition) - "pantoufles" are slippers.

Page 183 (Page 169- Penguin Edition) - "Divers alarums....perhaps they referred to dangerous depths, or lack of air pressure" Pratchett is playing with the various meanings of the words here - "alarums" is a stage direction given to indicate a battle is about to take place. "Divers" is a variation on the word "diverse". So the phrase can also mean "various warnings". In addition, as Tomjon speculates there is also the "deep sea diving" meaning which leads to dangerous depths and a lack of air pressure if the breathing supply fails.

Page 186 (Page 171 - Penguin Edition) - "Leonard of Quirm. He's a painter, really." Throughout the Discworld canon, Leonard Quirm is describes as an inventor, artist, painter and all around Renaissance man. He is of course based on Leonardo da Vinci, who also worked on (but didn't succeed in building) a flying machine.

Page 186 (Page 172 - Penguin Edition) - "We grow old, Master Hwel. [...] We have heard the gongs at midnight." This is another Shakespeare reference, in this case King Henry IV, Part 2, Act 3, Scene 2: "FALSTAFF: Old, old, Master Shallow. [...] We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow."

Page 186 (Page 172 - Penguin Edition) - "...you said he looks like the Fool person." More foreshadowing about the relationship between the Fool and Tomjon

Page 187 (Page 173 - Penguin Edition) - "caparisoned" refers to a horse which is decked out in rich decorative coverings.

Page 187 (Page 173 - Penguin Edition) - "Magic sword... out of thunderbolt iron" In legends and epic tales as well as fairy stories, the hero reclaiming his kingdom is often aided by a superior weapon such as a sword. King Arthur's Excalibur and Roland's Durundal are two examples but there are similar ones in most cultures around the world. In literature, the sword of Gryffindor in the Harry Potter series and Stormbringer in Michael Moorcroft's Elric series come to mind. A more complete list can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_magical_weapons.

Page 187 (Page 173 - Penguin Edition) - The strawberry birthmark or some other similar identifier is a similar plot device to the sword in legend and fairy tale and legend which allows the true identity of the prince, king or princess to be confirmed by the aged parents, the king or queen, the old nursemaid or nanny, etc.

Page 189 (Page 174 - Penguin Edition) - "'There's many a slip twixt dress and drawers.'" Nanny Ogg is making a word play on the Roundworld expression "There's many a slip 'tween the cup and the lip". Pratchett is using the other meaning of the word slip (petticoat); the clothing worn between a dress and underwear (drawers). Pratchett uses this line again in Reaper Man on page 147.

Page 189 (Page 174 - Penguin Edition) - "'A week is a long time in magic,' said Nanny. 'Fifteen years, for one thing"' This is a reference to the former British Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson's comment that "A week is a long time in politics". And fifteen years is the length of time into the future that Lancre has been moved by Granny's magic.

Page 190 (Page 175 - Penguin Edition) - "time was out of joint" This is another reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5 in which Hamlet says: The time is out of joint—O cursèd spite, That ever I was born to set it right!

Page 193 (Page 177 - Penguin Edition) - "raising two fingers at death" The common peace sign or "V" for Victory sign, like many other hand symbols, is not universal. With your palm outward this is acceptable and means either of the above. With your palm inward in most Commonwealth countries it is the same as giving someone the finger. Since this is a British series, written by a British author we can assume he means to give the finger to death.

Page 193 (Page 177 - Penguin Edition) - "1ST WITCHE: He's late. (Pause)" [Etc.] This section parodies Samuel Beckett's classic play Waiting for Godot, where similar dialogue occurs as the characters "wait for Godot" who never comes.

Page 194 (Page 178 - Penguin Edition) - "and none of your repartee....I can make a few cutting remarks of my own." Pratchett is playing with the meanings of the word "repartee" and its origin. Repartee comes from the French word repartire, which is a fencing term meaning "an answering thrust with a sword." When you are engaging in repartee, you don't literally stab someone, but you come back with a quick usually witty verbal blow. The thief is suggesting that he might respond with the physical as well as the verbal.

Page 195 (Page 179 - Penguin Edition) - "The worth of a man lies not in feats of arms". There are many Roundworld quotations regarding what "the worth of a man" is, including Albert Einstein, Oscar Wilde and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus who said, "The true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues." These words and Tomjon's following words resonate with the kind of speech made by Henry V in the Shakespeare play of the same name.

Page (Page 181 - Penguin Edition) - See the annotations on Page 139 (Page 127 - Penguin Edition) for Black Aliss. Poisoned apples and the like are a reference to the fairy tale of Snow White.

Page (Page 182 - Penguin Edition) - "Somewhere a lonely curlew howled, or perhaps it was a badger". The bloodcurdling, screaming wail of the curlew has often been likened to that of a ghostly banshee which has led it to be associated with suicide and death in some cultures. It can also mean new beginnings and change. Badgers make a screaming sound as well, hence the confusion. It also is associated with death but also can mean good fortune.

Page (Page 182 - Penguin Edition) - "I'm a poor old woman gathering wood". This and the following scenes where each of the witches in succession pretend to be a peasant gathering wood while really there to give directions to the travellers, resonates with many fairy tales in which the hero is guided by a mysterious personage who is often a key figure in disguise. In fairy tale analysis, this figure is referred to as the "helper", helping the hero solve a puzzle, find their way when they are lost or escape from the evil villain of the piece. For more information on the structural characteristics of fairy tales go to: http://fairies.zeluna.net/2013/06/fairy-tale-character-archetypes.html

Page 199 (Page 184 - Penguin Edition) - "'Did you know that an adult male carries up to five pounds of undigested red meat in his intestines at all times?"

This is stereotypical but true propaganda that radical vegetarians like to quote in order to get people to stop eating meat (of course, the average vegetarian has about five pounds of undigested vegetable matter in their intestines). The cliché is used fairly often, amongst other places in the movie Beverly Hills Cop.

Pratchett had this to say on the subject: "Yep. That one I got from some way out vegetarian stuff I read years ago, and went round feeling ill about for days. And two years ago I saw Beverly Hills Cop on TV and rejoiced when I heard the line. God, I wish I'd seen the film before I'd written Guards! Guards!... I'd have had someone out on stake-duty on horseback, and someone creep up behind them with a banana..."

Note that in Men at Arms, the second City Watch book, Terry indeed manages to work in a Beverly Hills Cop joke. See the annotation for p. 251/190 of Men At Arms .

Page (Page 187 - Penguin Edition) - "The king will manifest his destiny". Pratchett is playing with the American foreign policy that help to create the USA as it is today which was known as manifest destiny. Manifest destiny was a cultural belief in the 19th-century United States that American settlers were destined to expand across North America. Historian William Weeks, described it as: "The rhetoric of American empire comprises three main aspects: the assumption of the unique moral virtue of the United States, the assertion of its mission to redeem the world by the spread of republican government and more generally the 'American way of life', and the faith in the nation's divinely ordained destiny to succeed in this mission.

Page (Page 188 - Penguin Edition) - "four angry wild horses and a length of chain." This is a reference to the practice of quartering or dismembering a convicted person by tying each of their limbs to a chain attached to a horse and having the horses pull in opposite directions so the person was ripped apart. Often the sinews held too tightly so the person was partially carved up while still alive to help the horses in their work. It was particularly popular in case of treason and attempted regicide and was finally ended as a form of torture or punishment in Europe with the death in France of Robert-François Damiens in 1757.

Page (Page 188 - Penguin Edition) - "'I'm circumscribed', said the Fool." Circumscribed means to draw a circle around something - in other words to restrict the limits of something. So the Fool is saying that his movements are being monitored and controlled. After which he proceeds to tell Magrat everything she needs to know.

Page (Page 188 - Penguin Edition) - "And Granny had said (to Magret) "....If you have to seduct him". The word Granny obviously wants is seduce not seduct. The word origin is from the Latin verb sēdūcere, meaning “to lead aside.” The "t" in Granny's word is part of the suffix ending such as "tive" and "tion", not part of the root word.

Page (Page 188 - Penguin Edition) - Granny asks the ghostly King Verance if he would like a walnut to which he replies "they go right through me" - in his case, not because they give him diarrhea but because they would fall right through him since he has no solid form.

"What's a gentle?" asks Granny to which Nanny replies, "Type of maggot". Pratchett is playing with the alternate archaic use of the word gentle which is in fact a maggot used as bait in coarse fishing.

Page 207 (Page 191 - Penguin Edition) - "'All hail wossname,' she said under her breath, 'who shall be king here, after.'" This is another reference to Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 2: "All hail, Macbeth; that shalt be king hereafter!"

Page 208 (Page 192 - Penguin Edition) -"'Is anyone sitting here?' he said." This is also from Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 4 in which Banquo's ghost, visible only to Macbeth, sits down at the banquet in Macbeth's chair.

Macbeth: 'The table's full.'
Lennox: 'Here is a place reserv'd, sir.'
Macbeth: 'Where?'

Page 211 (Page 194-95 - Penguin Edition) - "What are you?" says Hwell. "'We're scheming evil secret black and midnight hags!'" Another quote from Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1: "How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!" See also the annotation for p. 186 of Mort . This whole scene is a parody of the typical rousing speech, cheer and call and response in locker rooms in every sport around the world designed to get the player hyped up to take on their opponent. Not usually associated with the theatre.

Page 212 (Page 196 - Penguin Edition) -"'I never shipwrecked anybody!' she said." Another Macbeth reference although not as obvious. In Act 1, Scene 3 the three witches are discussing what they will give the sailor's wife, including a tempest which will almost wreck her husband's ship and one mentions that she has the thumb of a pilot whose ship was "Wreck'd as homeward he did come". It also resonates with Shakespeare's The Tempest which is predicated on a shipwreck.

Page 212 (Page 196 - Penguin Edition) - Tomjon, playing the part of the evil king finds the real crown in the props box and wears it for the scene in a dramatic piece of irony - the real king playing the evil king wearing the real crown.

Page 213 (Page 196 - Penguin Edition) -"I'd like to know if I could compare you to a summer's day. Because -- well, June 12th was quite nice, and ..."

One of Shakespeare's more famous sonnets (Sonnet XVIII, to be precise) starts out:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate      

Page 213 (Page 197 - Penguin Edition) - "'But I never walked like that! Why's he got a hump on his back? What's happened to his leg?'"

Pratchett is commenting on the way history is written by the winner and is not necessarily, in fact very unlikely to be, fact. This a reference to Richard III fact versus fiction; In Shakespeare's Richard III, he is presented as an evil, lame, hunchbacked king, whom Henry must kill to save England. This is not historically correct -but it is how Henry would have liked people to remember it and since Henry's descendants were England's rulers in Shakespeare's time, if Shakespeare had strayed from the 'official' version he would have likely been imprisoned or worse by Henry's heirs.

Page 213 (Page 197 - Penguin Edition) - "'It's art,' said Nanny. 'It wossname, holds a mirror up to life.'" This line is another Shakespeare quote, in this case from Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2: "To hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure."

Page 214 (Page 198 - Penguin Edition) - "'Ditch-delivered by a drabe', they said." One of the ingredients in Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1 is a "finger of birth-strangled babe, ditch-delivered by a drab" -- a drab being a "nasty, sluttish whore", according to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Page (Page 214 - Penguin Edition) - "Sometimes you have to be kind to be cruel", says Nanny Ogg. This is a reference to the old expression that you have to be cruel to be kind - the idea being that you have to act cruelly to achieve a positive outcome. The phrase in its original form comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4: "I must be cruel, only to be kind: / Thus bad begins and worse remains behind."

Page (Page 201 - Penguin Edition) - "Punch and Judy Show....kept away from anywhere where crocodiles could conceivable be expected." As anyone familiar with Mr. Punch knows, one of the key characters in the puppet show is the crocodile whose role is to act as the avenging angel for everyone Mr. Punch has killed. Usually he eats Mr. Punch.

Page (Page 202 - Penguin Edition) - "Divers alarums and excursions" See annotation for Page 183 (Page 169- Penguin Edition). This time Pratchett's play on words focuses on the excursion part of the standard stage instructions in Nanny's comment about an excursion to the seaside.

Page (Page 202 - Penguin Edition) - '"Witches aren't like that', said Magrat. 'We live in harmony with the great cycles of Nature," Magrat is clearly demonstrating that she is a new age Wiccan type witch in contrast to Nanny and Granny's more traditional image.

Page (Page 204 - Penguin Edition) - "Break a leg" is a standard expression for expressing good luck. It originated in the theatre world, which can be very superstitous because actors believed that saying "good luck" would have the opposite effect and jinx the production.

Page (Page 205 - Penguin Edition) - The play was going to "take them by....tempest". Pratchett is again playing on Shakespeare's play The Tempest by varying the normal expression of "take them by storm" since a storm and tempest are synonyms.

Page 224 (Page 207 - Penguin Edition) - "Is this a dagger I see before me" - Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 1.

Page 225 (Page 208 - Penguin Edition) -THE NEXT NIGHT IN YOUR DRESSING ROOM THEY HANG A STAR--" Death is quoting from 'There's No Business Like Show Business', the song from the Irvin Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun, also performed by Ethel Merman in the 1954 movie There's No Business Like Show Business.

Page 227 (Page 210 - Penguin Edition) - "It was just a dream... he'd be alive tomorrow....And tomorrow it would not have happened...And tomorrow you can say I did not know....And tomorrow you can say I had no recollection." This is a play on Macbeth's famous soliloquy in Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5: See annotation on Page 236 (Page 218 - Penguin Edition).

Page 227 (Page 210 - Penguin Edition) - "'[...] who would have thought he had so much blood in him?'" Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, act 5, scene 1: "Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him".

Page 230 (Page 212 - Penguin Edition) - "Will there be a comet?... There must be a comet" Comets and meteors are portents of a noble or royal death, paticularly in Shakespeare's day and they are used extensively in Shakespeare's plays - King John, Henry IV, Othello and Julius Caesar to name a few.

Page (Page 213 - Penguin Edition) - The guards say, "We've seen... (witches) turn people into newts... And then shipwreck them...and alarum the divers" In this scene Pratchett plays with the way rumours spread, drawing on all the previous witch references that he has uses in the novel (see annotations for pages 166, 196 and 202 - Penguin Edition) and reversing them or corrupting them much like in the children's game of telephone.

Page (Page 213 - Penguin Edition) - "Granny moved her hand across at snakebite speed and caught the spear just behind the head." Granny's move resonates with just about every kung fu movie imaginable as well as all the parodies of that style.

Page (Page 214 - Penguin Edition) - Nanny says, "sometimes you have to be kind to be cruel". This is a play and reversal on the old expression that "you have to be cruel to be kind". The origin of the expression is from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4: "I must be cruel, only to be kind: / Thus bad begins and worse remains behind." Nanny's version resonates with John Lennon's words, "There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love." On the following page, the Duchess says that what drives people is fear. The duchess is expressing one half of that equation, Nanny the other.

Page (Page 216 - Penguin Edition) - Granny says, "what do you call them things, there's always a hundred of them in anything." To which Magret replies, "You mean per cents?". Both of course mean percent which does mean per one hundred - cent coming from the French for one hundred.

Page 235 (Page 217 - Penguin Edition) - "Like Bognor." Bognor Regis is a town on the south coast of England, between Brighton and Portsmouth. A sleepy seaside resort, it is best-known for King George V's attributed last words, supposedly said after his physician told him he would soon be brought to Bognor to convalesce: "Bugger Bognor!".

Page 236 (Page 218 - Penguin Edition) - "Does eldritch mean uncomfortable....What does it mean... Oblong, I think". This is a running joke which started in The Light Fantastic, when Cohen and Lackjaw (the guy who made his diamond teeth) find the luggage, Cohen says something like: "Watch out for that thing, its eldritch". Lackjaw replies "What's that mean...? ...oblong?" In fact, 'eldritch' means strange or unnatural especially in a way that inspires fear. It is particularly associated with HP Lovecraft in horror fiction and popular culture.

Page 236 (Page 218 - Penguin Edition) - "'Can you remember what he said after all those tomorrows?'" This is a reference to Macbeth's soliloquy, Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Page 239 (Page 221 - Penguin Edition) - "They were far more the type of kings who got people to charge into battle at five o'clock in the morning..."

Shakespeare's Henry V was just such a king, Pratchett is referring to the 'St Crispin's Day' speech in King Henry V, act 4, scene 3:

And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Page 241 (Page 223 - Penguin Edition) - "Magrat was...bearing down on the throne like a piston, and dragging the Fool behind her." The big reveal that the Fool and Tomjon are brothers and therefore the Fool is in line for the crown.

Page 242 (Page 224- Penguin Edition) - "If Musorsgky and seen them,, the night on bare mountain would have been over by teatime." Modest Mussorgsky was a 19th century Russian composer who wrote the tone poem Night on Bald (or Bare) Mountain, made famous by Rimsky-Korsakov which was later used as the score for Walt Disney's Fantasia,

Page (Page 227 - Penguin Edition) - "After a few seconds the knocking came again" This scene is based on Macbeth Act 2, Scene 3, where the drunken porter admits MacDuff and Lennox.

Page (Page 230- Penguin Edition) - The scene where the Duchess is eaten by the forest and its animals resonates with Macbeth's Dunsinane Wood coming to Macbeth.

Page (Page 230- Penguin Edition) - "Even the rabbits" - Pratchett is likely referencing the killer rabbit in Monty Python's Holy Grail.

Page (Page 231- Penguin Edition) - Magret discovers what 'droit de seigneur' means but in a twist it turns out the king wasn't out impregnating the Fool's mother but the Queen was being impregnated by the Fool's father. "He could climb walls like nobody's business... He was very popular at court...With the queen..."

Page (Page 232- Penguin Edition) - "The queen wasn't very good at counting." Pratchett is playing with the idea that the queen wouldn't necessarily have know when she became pregnant, but also with the old nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence, with the line "the king was in his counting house, counting out his money".

Page (Page 233- Penguin Edition) - "When shall we three meet again". This line taken directly from Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 1, brings the novel full circle to the opening. Of course, Pratchett makes fun of it by having the witches asking the question literally and then discussing each others availablity as if they are looking at their appointment calendars.

The sequel to Equal Rites.


For more details on this topic, see Wyrd Sisters (TV series).

There has been an animated version and a 4-part BBC Radio 4 dramatisation, as well as a play adaptation by Stephen Briggs


  • Wyrd Sisters (1988) by Terry Pratchett also appeared as:
    • Translation: As Três Bruxas [Portuguese] (1991)
    • Translation: MacBest [German] (1991)
    • Translation: De plaagzusters [Dutch] (1993)
    • Translation: Trois sœurcières? [French] (1995)
    • Translation: Vészbanyák [Hungarian] (2000)
    • Translation: Estranhas irmãs [Portuguese] (2003)
    • Translation: Häxkonster (Swedish)
    • Translation: Soudné sestry (Czech)
    • Translation: Sestre po metli (Serbian)
  1. A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon, & Cant, Albert Barrere, 1890, and Slang and Its Analogues by John S. Farmer & W.E. Henley, 1896.