From bestselling author Bill Bryson comes this compelling and concise biography of William Shakespeare, our greatest dramatist and poet.
Examining centuries of myths, half-truths and downright lies, Bill Bryson makes sense of the man behind the masterpieces. As he leads us through the crowded streets of Elizabethan England, he brings to life the places and characters that inspired Shakespeare’s work, with his trademark wit and accessibility. Along the way he delights in the inventiveness of Shakespeare’s language, which has given us so many of the indispensable words and phrases we use today, and celebrates the Bard’s legacy to our literature, culture and history.
Drawing together information from a vast array of sources, this is a masterful account of the life and works of William Shakespeare, one of the most famous and most enigmatic people ever to have lived – not to mention a classic piece of Bill Bryson, author of ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ and ‘Notes from a Small Island’.
Considering the hundreds of thousands of words that have been written about Shakespeare, relatively little is known about the man himself. In the absence of much documentation about his life, we have the plays and poetry he wrote. In this addition to the Eminent Lives series, bestselling author Bryson (The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid) does what he does best: marshaling the usual little facts that others might overlook for example, that in Shakespeare's day perhaps 40% of women were pregnant when they got married to paint a portrait of the world in which the Bard lived and prospered. Bryson's curiosity serves him well, as he delves into subjects as diverse as the reliability of the extant images of Shakespeare, a brief history of the theater in England and the continuing debates about whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon really wrote Shakespeare's works. Bryson is a pleasant and funny guide to a subject at once overexposed and elusive as Bryson puts it, "he is a kind of literary equivalent of an electron forever there and not there."