The Impatience of Hamlet : 1929 : Ella Sharpe

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1929


1) Reprinted from the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1929, Vol X, p270

2)  Also from p203 of Collected Papers on Psycho-analysis by Ella Freeman Sharpe: Edited by Marjorie Brierley : No 36 of The International Psycho-Analytical Library : The Hogarth Press : 1950, Editor Ernest Jones

Available at /Authors by date or Authors a-z

Ella Sharpe seems not to quote directly from any of Sigmund Freud’s texts.

Quoted by Jacques Lacan:

Seminar VI:Desire and its Interpretation: 

Availability given Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here

Seminar VI : Session of 4th March 1959 : Ch 13: p162 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation,From p162: The theme of Hamlet, after Freud, was taken up on several occasions. I probably will not make the rounds of all the authors who took it up. You know that the first one was Jones. Ella Sharpe also put forward a certain number of things about Hamlet which are not uninteresting, Shakespeare’s thought and Shakespeare’s work being right at the centre of her formation. We may have an opportunity to come back to it.

Seminar VI : 4th March 1959 : Ch 13 : p164

This therefore is what we are in the process of trying to do. I will finish the little that remains of Freud’s paragraph. He does not take long in any case to throw what will be a bridge across the abyss of Hamlet. It is in fact quite striking in effect that Hamlet remained a complete literary enigma up to Freud. This does not mean that it is not still one, but there is this bridge. This is true for other works. The Misanthrope is the same kind of enigma.

‘The distaste for sexuality … fits in very well with this’ (symptom) ‘the same distaste that was destined to take possession of the poets mind more and more … and which reached its extreme expression in Timon of Athens.’ I am reading this passage to the end, because it is important, and in two lines opens the way for those who subsequently tried to organise the whole of Shakespeare’s work around the problem of personal repression. This effectively is what Ella Sharpe tried to do; which is indicated in what was published after her death in the form of ‘An Unfinished Paper’, in her Hamlet which first appeared in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and which is something like an attempt to take the whole evolution of the work of Shakespeare as signifying something which I believe that by wanting to give it a certain schematic form Ella Sharp certainly did something imprudent, and in any case something which can be criticised from the point of view of method, which does not exclude that effectively she discovered some valuable things.

For it can of course only be the poets own mind which confronts us in Hamlet.

Seminar VI : 11th March 1959 : Ch 14 : p173

I must also say that Ella Sharpe, whom I esteem greatly, in this respect, in her essay which it is true is unfinished, which was discovered after her death, greatly disappointed me. I will mention it all the same because it is significant. It is so much along the line that we are trying to explain regarding the tendency which we see being taken by analytic theory, that it is worth highlighting it. But we will not begin with it.

Seminar VI : 15th April 1959 : Ch 17 : p221

I recall that some people have reproached me for having advanced only with a certain timidity. I do not think I have demonstrated an exceptional timidity. I would not like to encourage you towards these foolish utterances which literally swarm in psychoanalytic texts. I am only astonished that it has not been written that Ophelia is ho phallos, because we find things which are just as gross and just as striking, by people who do not have bats in the belfry, simply by opening the unfinished paper on Hamlet which Ella Sharpe has perhaps regrettably left unfinished before her death, and which perhaps it was a mistake to publish.

Quote from ‘Preface’ by Ernest Jones

from Collected Papers on Psycho-Analysis by Ella Freeman Sharpe: No 36 of The International Psycho-Analytical Library : The Hogarth Press : 1950

Quote: Ella Sharpe (1875-1947), who had been a teacher of English literature, first made contact with psycho-analysis through working under James Glover at the Brunswick Square Clinic. She joined the British Psycho-Analytical Society in 1921 after spending some time in Berlin being analysed by Hanns Sachs. He and she belonged to the galaxy of brilliant lay analysts who demonstrated that, however desirable a medical qualification may be, it is possible for exceptional persons from other callings not only to master the theory and technique of psycho-analysis but to make important contributions to our knowledge of it. Both became leading teachers in that subject (“training analysts”). 

Contents of Collected Papers on Psycho-Analysis by Ella F. Sharpe:

Edited by Marjorie Brierley :

Preface by Ernest Jones

For details of availability of other texts by Ella Sharpe go to ‘Posts for the “Sharpe Ella” category’ : here


I Contribution to symposium on Child Analysis (1927)

International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1927, Vol VIII, p380

II The Technique of Psycho-Analysis. Seven Lectures (1930)

1. The Analyst

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1930, Vol XI, p251

2. The Analysand

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1930, Vol XI, p263

3. Survey of Defence-Mechanisms in General Character-Traits and in Conduct: Evaluation of Pre-Conscious Material

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1930, Vol XI, p361

4. The Dynamics of the Method – The Transference.

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1930, Vol XI, p374

5. Anxiety : Outbreak and Resolution

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1931, Vol XII, p24

6. Variations of Technique in Different Neuroses. Delusion. Paranoia. Obsession. Conversion Types.

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1931, Vol XII, p37

7. Technique in Character Analyses.

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1931, Vol XII, p52

III A Note on “The Magic of Names” (1946)

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1946, Vol XXVII, p152

IV The Psycho-Analyst (1947)

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1947, Vol XXVIII, p1


V Certain Aspects of Sublimation and Delusion (1930)

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1930, Vol XI, p12

Probably posted to

VI Similar and Divergent Unconscious Determinants Underlying the Sublimations of Pure Art and Pure Science (1935)

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1935, Vol XVI, p180

Probably posted to

VII Psycho-Physical Problems revealed in Language : an Examination of Metaphor (1940)

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1940, Vol XXI, p201

VIII Cautionary Tales (1943)

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1943, Vol XXIV, p41


IX Francis Thompson : a Psycho-Analytical Study (1925)

Brit. J. Med. Psychol., 1925, Vol V, p329

X The Impatience of Hamlet (1929)

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1929, Vol X, p270

Probably posted to

XI From King Lear to The Tempest (1946)

Int J Psycho-Analysis, 1946, Vol XXVII, p19

Probably posted to

XII An unfinished paper on Hamlet : Introduction and Extracts

Published posthumously in 1950 : Posted to

List of Publications by Ella Freeman Sharpe (p267)

1924. Chapter VI, “Vocation” – Social aspects of Psycho-Analysis: Williams and Norgate, London

1925. “A Psycho-Analytical Appreciation of the Life and Work of Francis Thampson,” The British Journal of Medical Psychology, Vol V

1927. “Symposium on Child Analysis,” Int. J. Psycho-Anal., Vol VIII

1929. “The Impatience of Hamlet,” Int. J. Psycho-Analy., vol. X

1930. “Certain Aspects of sublimation and Delusion.” (Read at the Eleventh International congress of Psycho-Analysis), Int. J. Psycho-Anal., Vol. XI

Probably posted to

1930-1. “The Technique of Psycho-Analysis,” Int. Jl Psycho-Anal., Vols XI, XII. (Seven lectures delivered to candidates tin training at the Institute of Psycho-Analysis.)

1935. Dream Analysis. The International Psycho-Analytical Library. (Published by the Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis.)

Information of availability of Chapter V: Analysis of a single dream : 1937 : Ella Sharpe or here

1940. “Psycho-Physical Problems Revealed in Language : an examination of Metaphor,” Int. J. Psycho-Anal., Vol XXI

1943. “Cautionary Tales,” Int. J. Psycho-Anal., Vol. XXIV

1945. “What the Father means to a Child,” New Era, Vol 26, No. 7.

1946. “From King Lear to The Tempest,” Int. J. Psycho-Anal., Vol XXVII

1947. “The Psycho-Analyst.” Int. J. Psycho-Anal., Vol XXVIII. (The first chapter of a book in preparation at the time of death entitled “Talks to students of Psycho-Analysis.”)

Please note:

Other posts from the Reading Seminar VII group are available on : here

All posts relevant to the NLS conference, and references for seminar VI, are available

Posts for the “B. Seminar VI : towards NLS in Ghent, 2014” category or here


Note : If links to any required text do not work, check If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans


Julia Evans   

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London & Sandwich, Kent


Further posts:

Lacanian Transmission here 

Some Lacanian history  here

Of the clinic  here 

Topology here    

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud  here 

By Jacques Lacan here 

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here 

Jacques Lacan in English or here  

Translation Working Group here 

Use of power here     

By Ella Sharpe  here 

By Julia Evans here