Shakespeare Cliff and Beach

Shakespeare Cliff is a prominent headland to the east of Dover. It's part of the White Cliffs of Dover, which extend to either side of the town. It's so called because in King Lear, the blinded Earl of Gloucester, meeting his son Edgar on the heath near Dover (but not recognising him – partly because Gloucester is blind, partly because Edgar is disguised as the madman Tom o'Bedlam, and partly because Gloucester believes Edgar to be dead) begs him to lead him to the top of a cliff so that he may throw himself off it. Edgar pretends to do so, and describes the elevation and the wildness of the location in fearsome tones. When Gloucester throws himself from what he thinks is a great height, Edgar persuades his father that he has survived a great fall.

So in fact, Shakespeare's characters never got to the cliff at all – even if one of them believes he did.

We later learn that Gloucester has died offstage, from shock at discovering that Edgar is in fact still alive.

The beach that leads to the cliff from the town has come to be known as Shakespeare Beach.

© Haydn Thompson 2016