William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself. Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, from today's most respected academics to eccentrics like Delia Bacon, an American who developed a firm but unsubstantiated conviction that her namesake, Francis Bacon, was the true author of Shakespeare's plays. Emulating the style of his famous travelogues, Bryson records episodes in his research, including a visit to a bunkerlike room in Washington, D.C., where the world's largest collection of First Folios is housed. Bryson celebrates Shakespeare as a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness, a coiner of phrases ("vanish into thin air," "foregone conclusion," "one fell swoop") that even today have common currency. His Shakespeare is like no one else's--the beneficiary of Bryson's genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivaled in our time.
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‘This season's best-selling volume.' Independent
'A brilliantly funny and gently insightful travel guide to 16th century England. Bryson is great at picking out of the morass of Elizabethan fact the small details that illuminate and amuse...he also uncovers from the world that surrounded the theatre some fascinating examples of Elizabethan eccentricity...As an abbreviated tour around the world of Shakespeare, this could hardly be bettered.' Sunday Times
‘Bill Bryson has always been able to spot a market; and there ought to be a market for his latest book...an accessible, sensible Life of Shakespeare...surely a fine gift for someone encountering Shakespeare for the first time...Bryson is shrewd...and as funny as you'd expect...he sets down all the important bits of evidence, and assesses them in a measured scholarly way. He's good value too.’ Daily Telegraph
‘Measured, sensible and, at times, as wryly humorous as you'd expect.’ The Times
‘Bryson uses an inimitably light touch and squeezes a vast subject down to manageable proportions...he is a warm and funny guide through the whole complicated morass of Shakespearean scholarship.’ Financial TimesAbout the Author:
Bill Bryson's many books include, most recently ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’ as well as ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’, ‘I'm a Stranger Here Myself’, ‘A Walk in the Woods’, ‘Neither Here Nor There’, ‘Made in America’, and ‘Notes from a Small Island’. He edited ‘The Best American Travel Writing 2000’. Born in Des Moines, he now lives in Norfolk with his wife and four children.
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