Shakespeare (The Illustrated and Updated Edition) (Hardcover)

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"In the British Library catalog," Bill Bryson tells us, "enter 'Shakespeare' as author and you get 13,858 options, and as subject you get 16,092 more. The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., contains about seven thousand works on Shakespeare. . .and, as this slim volume attests, the number keeps growing." A good number of them are most likely biographies. What makes Bryson's biography different is that it is one written more on what we don't know than what we do.

Originally published in 2007, Bryson's Shakespeare was re-released last November in an updated, illustrated version. Bryson explores in a rather simple way the complicated paradox of how Shakespeare can be the most well-known literary figure in history, yet we hardly know a thing about him. Birth date? Speculated. Childhood upbringing? Largely unknown. We aren't even sure he actually looks the way we've always thought him to look like. It certainly makes us wonder: what on earth are those thousands of books on Shakespeare actually about?

Well, at least we know what Bryson's book is about. It is written with Bryson's trademark effortless wit, which proves wonderfully perfect when debunking some of the myths concerning Shakespeare. He even covers those pesky anti-Stratfordians (those who believe Shakespeare's work was written by someone other than Shakespeare). In response to the belief that Christopher Marlowe wrote Shakespeare's plays, Bryson writes, "[Marlowe] was the right age (just two months older than Shakespeare), had the requisite talent, and would certainly have had ample leisure after 1593, assuming he wasn't too dead to work." We may indeed know but a few facts on Shakespeare, but Bryson's Shakespeare helps illustrate how and why this mystery figure remains arguably the greatest mind in literature. -- Geo Ong

— From February 2010


Shakespeare: The Illustrated Edition is an exquisitely illustrated, updated edition of Bill Bryson’s bestselling biography of William Shakespeare that takes the reader on an enthralling tour through Elizabethan England and the eccentricities of Shakespearean scholarship. With more than 100 color and black-and-white illustrations throughout, and updated to include recent discoveries, Shakespeare: The Illustrated Edition evokes the superstitions, academic discoveries, and myths surrounding the life of one of the greatest poets, and makes sense of the man behind the masterpieces.

About the Author

Bill Bryson's bestselling books include One Summer, A Short History of Nearly Everything, At Home, A Walk in the Woods, Neither Here nor There, Made in America, and The Mother Tongue. He lives in England with his wife.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780061965326
ISBN-10: 0061965324
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: November 3rd, 2009
Pages: 256
Language: English