UK 7" [Rough Trade RT181]
UK 12" [Rough Trade RTT181]
The 2008 reissue of the 7" single by Rhino UK was also included in the "Smiths Singles box" which compiled the band's first 10 UK singles (plus two bonuses). On each of the five weeks leading to the release of the latter box, two singles from it were put up for sale individually. Collectors could therefore buy two single reissues every week, or wait at the end of the programme to get all of them in the box, alongside the two bonus 7"s.
Etchings on vinyl:
Additional release date information:
Chart peak information:
"There's no earthly reason why it should have [failed commercially]. The height of suspicion surrounds the fate of that record. I know for a fact 'Shakespeare's Sister' wasn't played on the radio. The record's merits are irrelevant here. With our status it should have automatically had a high profile, but it was blacklisted by the BBC because I denounced the BPI Awards. The sinner must be punished... I'm slowly edging away from certain issues... I think Rough Trade released the record with a monstrous amount of defeatism. They had no faith in it whatsoever. They liked it but they allowed it to dribble, to stall. They didn't service it or market it in any way."
"But 'Shakespeare's Sister', regardless of what many people feel, was the song of my life. I put everything into that song and I wanted it more than anything else to be a huge success, and - as it happens - it wasn't. We can talk about independents and majors till the end of the day - but ultimately, when you make a good record, you want it to be heard."
Was the relative chart failure of "Shakespeare's Sister" a key point in your relationship with Rough Trade?
"It didn't surprise me that a song like 'Shakespeare's Sister' didn't get in the charts. It was a very arch record to release at that time. Quite audacious, a bit mad. That's why I loved it. (...) [Morrissey] certainly drew my attention to some problems with Rough Trade that weren't just about getting us in the charts. They did take their eye off the ball several times for whatever reason. It wasn't sinister; it was a fair bit of incompetence, bad business, bad planning, distribution cock-ups. It was very important that we had presence, that each record was an event. If 'Shakespeare's Sister' was out there with a big presence it would have made us happy. It wasn't actually the number next to the chart placing in the Guinness Book Of Hit Singles. Well, it wasn't to me, anyway. I was more concerned with what my mates thought of the B-sides."
"Did I hear a yawn? Yeah, well I know what you mean. We're all sick of Morrissey's tortured torso gleaming at us from every news-stand and of Johnny Marr's televised metamorphosis into Keith Richards, but behind all the posturing, the musical spell remains unbroken. 'Shakespeare's Sister' is a brief, brusque Diddleybuzz, a determined disturbing of the air after the balmy psychedelic for that was the beauteous 'How Soon Is Now'. It's just 129 second of our finest band (still) in a cruising gear, another sliver of greatness. All this and Pat Phoenix on the sleeve. The yawners want blood."
"Their least spectacular single. Their finest cover star."