A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

By James Shapiro,

Book cover of A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599

Book description

What accounts for Shakespeare’s transformation from talented poet and playwright to one of the greatest writers who ever lived? In this gripping account, James Shapiro sets out to answer this question, "succeed[ing] where others have fallen short." (Boston Globe)

1599 was an epochal year for Shakespeare and England. During that…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

A brilliant combination of biography and history during the amazing moment of creation of some of the Bard’s greatest plays (Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and even Hamlet). These varied dramas played out against the sensitive moment in London of an aging, heirless Queen Elizabeth I after the Armada and Irish wars but also at the formation of the East India Company.  Shapiro’s (and Shakespeare’s) sequel, The Year of Lear. Shakespeare in 1606, deserves attention, as does the vivid historical fiction, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, told from the viewpoint of Stratford…

Strictly speaking, this is not a book about Tudor art or architecture. Rather, it tells the gripping story of a pivotal year in the life of Shakespeare – and Shakespeare’s England. Drawing on all manner of sources, including household inventories and travel diaries kept by foreign visitors to London and the provinces, Shapiro vividly evokes the textures of life in sixteenth-century England: from the humble stained cloths that adorned the walls of taverns and comparatively modest households like the one in which Shakespeare was raised to the tapestries, oil paintings and other objets d’art that lined the walls of the…

From Elizabeth's list on Tudor art and architecture.

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