*Discusses the theories and mysteries of Shakespeare's life and works.
*Includes contemporaneous accounts about Shakespeare.
*Includes a Bibliography for further reading.
“Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine, Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads. And recks not his own rede.” – Ophelia in Hamlet
Actor. Dramatist. Poet. Husband. Father. Producer. Businessman. Servant of the Crown. All of the above can be applied to William Shakespeare. Certainly England’s greatest playwright, he is still considered to be the most influential writer in the English language. Leaving behind a nearly unprecedented body of work to his credit, he addressed the full spectrum of the human condition and achieved what few other writers have in becoming a part of a global consciousness. Shakespeare is so renowned and respected that the time period in which he lived is often known as the Age of Shakespeare. Indeed, his genius is questioned only by those who doubt the authenticity of his authorship of timeless classics like Romeo and Juliet. As Ben Jonson once put it, "He was not of an age, but for all time.” No other writer, in English or in any other language, can rival the appeal that Shakespeare has enjoyed around the world, and nobody’s had a bigger influence.
The “Bard of Avon” has a catalogue full of the best known plays and poetry in history. His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the 16th century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, and in his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies. Even those who have never read works like Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, or Hamlet are instantly familiar with the names.
Although his works are so well known, major details of his life are still sketchy. Much has been made of the fact that personal details about Shakespeare’s life are sparse. As a result, many have tried to undermine his contributions, assigning authorship of several of his major titles to other writers, i.e. Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe. The support for Shakespeare’s authenticity, however, is strong, as none of these suspicions have been substantiated. On the contrary, his life is unusually well-documented for a commoner of his time; the documents simply lack glamour or drama – two things a curious fan base would hope for. The many business letters, theatrical records, municipal archives and parish entries which do exist more than validate where he was and when. The absence of personal drama or conflict actually supports his work ethic. He was a dedicated, driven professional, churning out nearly 38 plays, 154 sonnets and numerous other poems – all splendid and brilliant in their diversity – in less than 25 years. His immense legacy speaks for itself, and his influence can still be felt on Western literature hundreds of years after his death.
British Legends: The Life and Legacy of William Shakespeare looks at life, mysteries, and legends of the Bard of Avon, while examining his work and lasting legacy. Along with pictures and a bibliography, you will learn about Shakespeare like you never have before, in no time at all.
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Published April 8, 2013
by Charles River Editors.
Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction.