Bill Bryson’s biography of William Shakespeare unravels the superstitions, academic discoveries and myths surrounding the life of our greatest poet and playwright.
Ever since he took the theatre of Elizabethan London by storm over 400 years ago, Shakespeare has remained centre stage. His fame stems not only from his plays – performed everywhere from school halls to the world’s most illustrious theatres – but also from his enigmatic persona. His face is familiar to all, yet in reality very little is known about the man behind the masterpieces.
Shakespeare’s life, despite the scrutiny of generations of biographers and scholars, is still a thicket of myths and traditions, some preposterous, some conflicting, arranged around the few scant facts known about the Bard – from his birth in Stratford to the bequest of his second best bed to his wife when he died.
Taking us on a journey through the streets of Elizabethan and Jacobean England, Bryson examines centuries of stories, half-truths and downright lies surrounding our greatest dramatist. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, he introduces a host of engaging characters, as he celebrates the magic of Shakespeare’s language and delights in details of the bard’s life, folios, poetry and plays.
Bill Bryson\'s many books include, most recently ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’ as well as ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything‘, ‘I\'m a Stranger Here Myself’, ‘A walk in the Woods’, ‘Neither Here Nor There’, ‘Made in America’, and ‘Notes from a Small Island’. He edited ‘The Best American Travel Writing 2000’. Born in Des Moines, he now lives in Norfolk with his wife and four children.
'A brilliantly funny and gently insightful travel guide to 16th century England. Bryson is great at picking out of the morass of Elizabethan fact the small details that illuminate and amuse…he also uncovers from the world that surrounded the theatre some fascinating examples of Elizabethan eccentricity…As an abbreviated tour around the world of Shakespeare, this could hardly be bettered' Sunday Times -
”'Less a biography than a delightful account of Shakespeare's elusiveness - and the extraordinary lengths people have gone to remedy it…the pairing of Bryson with Shakespeare is a happy on.” - TLS
”'Bill Bryson jogs along in his own ineffable way, good-humoured, undoctrinaire, nodding respectfully at experts but confidently following his own inclinations…he is shrewd on telling detail” - Times
”'Bill Bryson has always been able to spot a market; and there ought to be a market for his latest book…an accessible, sensible Life of Shakespeare…surely a fine gift for someone encountering Shakespeare for the first time…Bryson is shrewd…and as funny as you'd expect…he sets down all the important bits of evidence, and assesses them in a measured scholarly way. He's good value too.” - Daily Telegraph
”'Measured, sensible and, at times, as wryly humorous as you'd expect” - Times
”'Bryson uses an inimitably light touch and squeezes a vast subject down to manageable proportions…he is a warm and funny guide through the whole complicated morass of Shakespearean scholarship” - Financial Times