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In Hamlet

Not in Hamlet

"Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well"

It's a really famous line from a really famous play, so do you remember "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well" being in Shakespeare's Hamlet?

It turns out the actual line is very different, in fact it is "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio".

The original text is:

Let me see. (takes the skull) Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?

Drama from 400 years ago

Yorick is the dead court jester who's skull is exhumed. Hamlet muses his famous soliloquy when he holds the skull. The first time it was represented in print was in 1773 in an engraving by Edward Edwards the edition of Shakespeare's plays by Bell. Some later variations do show Yorick as a living person, but this was never in anything Shakespeare did.

It's ironic that Shakespeare's Hamlet, written around 1600, is itself derived from an earlier 13th century story preserved by 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus. That's because it is still being retold today in different guises, the most popular modern one being The Lion King

Famous lines from movies and plays are staple food for the Mandela Effect, and it doesn't seem to matter how famous or well-known the works are. When even the bible can throw up many apparent changes to the version people remember, there seems to be nothing sacred when it comes to the Mandela Effect.