Sunday, 26 June 2016

Discover Many Interesting Facts About Shakespeare with Bill Bryson

This is an immensely readable account of the life of William Shakespeare, as you would expect from such a conveyor of interesting facts as Bill Bryson.
However, even he hasn't got a lot to go on!
The blurb from the back of my 2007 edition quotes Bryson and says:
'On only a handful of days in his life can we say with absolute certainty where he was.'
Also, there are also only three possible likenesses of the great man, all made after his death!
Nevertheless, the book, at just short of two hundred pages, takes us through Shakespeare's life, illuminating it from what can be gleaned from the social history of the period.
Bill Bryson pieces together what the original Globe theatre must have looked like, and what life was like for the actors and indeed the people of London where theatres were shut for months on end because of continual outbreaks of the plague.
He also attempts to discover something about Shakespeare's relationship to his wife, Anne Hathaway, to whom he famously left his second-best bed!
Anne Hathaway's Cottage
 And, of course, Bryson examines his plays, discussing in which order they were written, and whom, if anyone, he collaborated with, and whether the glover's son from Stratford-upon-Avon even wrote them at all.
I don't think that Shakespeare scholars would find much that they didn't already know, but for the average person, keen to find out a little more about the Bard in an interesting and amusing way, it is well worth reading it, especially now, in 2016, we are celebrating four hundred years since his death.
However, for those whose interest is sparked, there is a good biography at the end for further reading.

You can buy Shakespeare by Bill Bryson here.

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