By Peter Ackroyd
(Anchor, Paperback, 9781400075980, 592pp.)
Publication Date: November 14, 2006
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Drawing on an exceptional combination of skills as literary biographer, novelist, and chronicler of London history, Peter Ackroyd surely re-creates the world that shaped Shakespeare--and brings the playwright himself into unusually vivid focus. With characteristic narrative panache, Ackroyd immerses us in sixteenth-century Stratford and the rural landscape–the industry, the animals, even the flowers–that would appear in Shakespeare’s plays. He takes us through Shakespeare’s London neighborhood and the fertile, competitive theater world where he worked as actor and writer. He shows us Shakespeare as a businessman, and as a constant reviser of his writing. In joining these intimate details with profound intuitions about the playwright and his work, Ackroyd has produced an altogether engaging masterpiece.
Peter Ackroyd was born in London in 1949. He achieved a Double First at Cambridge and studied in America at Yale as a Mellon Fellow. His first two publications were books of poetry; his first biography was about Ezra Pound and his first novel about Oscar Wilde. He is a successful novelist (drawing on history for most of his settings) and has written biographies of T.S. Eliot, Dickens, Blake and Thomas More. He has written and presented two TV series for the BBC (Dickens and London) and is the author of London: The Biography and Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination.
“Demystifies the man and the artist. . . . Expertly evokes the townscape and landscape in and around Stratford, and the corresponding mindscape that vividly merges the urban and the rustic.” –The New York Times“William Shakespeare's London comes to life with remarkable immediacy and clarity. . . . Ackroyd's research is impressive.”–San Francisco Chronicle“Ackroyd provides the sights and sounds (and smells) of Stratford and London until you'd swear Shakespeare was right at your elbow, sipping ale.”–The Philadelphia Inquirer “Captures the thrill of London and of a theater emerging, in a ‘hard and disenchanted age,’ to replace the church as the center of communal spectacle.”–The Wall Street Journal“Creates a tapestry of Elizabethan London so rich that you feel you've been there.” –Independent on Sunday