A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare
By James Shapiro
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060088736, 416pp.)
Publication Date: October 1, 2005
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An intimate history of Shakespeare, following him through a single year -- 1599 -- that changed not only his fortunes but the course of literature
How was Shakespeare transformed from being a talented poet and playwright to become one of the greatest writers who ever lived? In this one exhilarating year we follow what he reads and writes, what he sees, and whom he works with as he invests in the new Globe Theatre and creates four of his most famous plays -- Henry the Fifth, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and, most remarkably, Hamlet.
James Shapiro illuminates both Shakespeare's staggering achievement and what Elizabethans experienced in the course of 1599: sending off an army to crush an Irish rebellion, weathering an Armada threat from Spain, gambling on the fledgling East India Company, and waiting to see who would succeed their aging and childless queen.
This book brings the news and intrigue of the times together with a wonderful evocation of how Shakespeare worked as an actor, businessman, and playwright. The result is an exceptionally immediate and gripping account of an inspiring moment in history.
James Shapiro, aprofessor at Columbia University in New York, is the author of Rival Playwrights, Shakespeare and the Jews, and Oberammergau.