The Life of William Shakespeare: A Critical Biography


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The extent to which he would have been familiar with the works of such ancient classics is unknown, but studying Shakespeare's plays and long poems suggests he had at least a degree of knowledge about them in their original forms, not merely translations. When William Shakespeare was 18, he married Anne Hathaway, Their first child, Susanna, was born the following May; twins, Hamnet and Judith, followed in Little information is available regarding Shakespeare's life from the time of the twins' birth until All we know for sure is that by , Shakespeare had arrived in London, leaving his family behind, and had begun what is perhaps the most successful literary career the world has ever known.

Between the years of and , Shakespeare wrote 38 plays. His dramatic work is commonly studied in four categories: comedies, histories, tragedies, and romances.


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Shakespeare is also well known for his sonnet sequence written in the early s which is comprised of interconnected sonnets dealing with issues such as love, fidelity, mortality, and the artist's power and voice. Because of the publishing practices of the time and the fact that playwrights, including Shakespeare, didn't write with the intention of preserving their plays but with the goal of making money, it is difficult to pinpoint definitive texts. In Shakespeare's case, only about half of his plays were published during his lifetime.


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Her discussions of the plays are restrained and accessible, like the best of David Bevington's writing. What Potter provides is a consistent, engaging and reliable account of what IS known about his life and career.

Will Durant -- The Life of William Shakespeare

Unfortunately I didn't care much for the narrator. He has an appealing voice, but he makes a number of stylistic choices that, if not plain wrong, are at least jarring. And several of the names of Shakespeare's friends and colleagues are consistently mispronounced. Worse than the mispronunciations is the English accent he uses when reading passages from the plays and other contemporary documents. His attempt at an accent is unconvincing and distracting. It's doubly unfortunate because as another review notes those passages are his most interesting and passionate.

I would add to this his unfortunate habit of using this accent when reading passages from modern-day scholars. He does this sometimes even when said scholar is American.

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Nine Lives of William Shakespeare

I met Samuel Schoenbaum once, and I can guarantee that he did not speak like a chimney-sweep. Those flaws detract from what would otherwise have been a clear and well-paced narration. The book itself, however, remains one of the best and best-researched biographies of Shakespeare to come along in a long time.

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If you want the real deal, Lois Potter's book is one to treasure. In my opinion it's worth overlooking the flawed narration and focusing on the excellence of the content. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here. Not a member?

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