100 books like Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth

By Margaret P. Hannay,

Here are 100 books that Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth fans have personally recommended if you like Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Renaissance Drama by Women: Texts and Documents

Alison Findlay Author Of Love's Victory: By Lady Mary Wroth

From my list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most people have not heard of a female playwright before Aphra Behn so I’ve been passionate about restoring the work of Shakespeare’s ‘sisters’, or female contemporaries, to the stage and to public awareness. Early play scripts by women are often dismissed as ‘closet drama’: unperformed, not written for performance, and unperformable. To challenge such assumptions, I staged productions of female-authored plays, most recently Wroth’s Love’s Victory. A good deal of writing about women’s drama now exists, including my book Playing Spaces. I have made this selection to encourage you to discover the plays for yourselves. I hope you enjoy reading, and perhaps watching or acting, them.

Alison's book list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day

Alison Findlay Why did Alison love this book?

This book gives an excellent introduction to women’s involvement in theatre in the age of Shakespeare by making 6 of their texts easily available for the first time.

It publishes Queen Elizabeth I’s translation of a section by Seneca; The Tragedy of Antony (1595), a translation of a French play about Antony and Cleopatra by Mary Sidney Herbert, (aunt to Lady Mary Wroth).

It also publishes three original plays by women: Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam (1613), The Concealed Fancies (1645), by the sisters Elizabeth Brackley and Jane Cavendish, and a valuable edition of Love’s Victory (but in a short section on p. 122 misprints the order of pages in the manuscript).

Cupid’s Banishment (1619) by Robert White is an entertainment, written to be performed by schoolgirls

By S.P. Cerasano (editor), Marion Wynne-Davies (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Renaissance Drama by Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Renaissance Drama By Women is a unique volume of plays and documents. For the first time, it demonstrates the wide range of theatrical activity in which women were involved during the Renaissance period. It includes full-length plays, a translated fragment by Queen Elizabeth I, a masque, and a substantial number of historical documents. With full and up-to-date accompanying critical material, this collection of texts is an exciting and invaluable resource for use in both the classroom and research.
Special features introduced by the editors include:
* introductory material to each play
* modernized spellings
* extensive notes and annotations
*…


Book cover of Three Tragedies by Renaissance Women

Alison Findlay Author Of Love's Victory: By Lady Mary Wroth

From my list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most people have not heard of a female playwright before Aphra Behn so I’ve been passionate about restoring the work of Shakespeare’s ‘sisters’, or female contemporaries, to the stage and to public awareness. Early play scripts by women are often dismissed as ‘closet drama’: unperformed, not written for performance, and unperformable. To challenge such assumptions, I staged productions of female-authored plays, most recently Wroth’s Love’s Victory. A good deal of writing about women’s drama now exists, including my book Playing Spaces. I have made this selection to encourage you to discover the plays for yourselves. I hope you enjoy reading, and perhaps watching or acting, them.

Alison's book list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day

Alison Findlay Why did Alison love this book?

This very handy anthology includes the only modern edition of The Tragedie of Iphigenia (1557-9), by Jane Lumley, the first person to translate Euripides into English and the first English woman to write a full-length play.

It is a surprisingly modern-sounding script, featuring a father sacrificing his daughter, not unlike Stannis Barathean in Game of Thrones, and I loved producing and taking part in a production in 2013-14. Also included are Antonius translated by Mary [Sidney Herbert], Countess of Pembroke, and Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam.

Unlike the anthology above, this edition publishes the plays in their original old spelling so you can get a feel of Renaissance English. Diane Purkiss offers a concise introduction and notes at the back of the book.

By Diane Purkiss (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Three Tragedies by Renaissance Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume contains unmodernized versions of plays by each of the three leading Renaissance women dramatists: Elizabeth Cary's "The Tragedie of Mariam" (1613), the story of the plight of a woman married against her will to an unbending tyrant; June Lumley's version of Euripides' "Iphigenia" (1550), the earliest surviving translation of a Greek tragedy; and Mary Sidney's "Antonie" (1590), a blank verse translation of a French Senecan play. Intended for private production, all three were able to address contentious political issues - the nature of the good ruler, resistance to unjust authority - which were seldom permitted on the public…


Book cover of Imperfect Alchemist

Alison Findlay Author Of Love's Victory: By Lady Mary Wroth

From my list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most people have not heard of a female playwright before Aphra Behn so I’ve been passionate about restoring the work of Shakespeare’s ‘sisters’, or female contemporaries, to the stage and to public awareness. Early play scripts by women are often dismissed as ‘closet drama’: unperformed, not written for performance, and unperformable. To challenge such assumptions, I staged productions of female-authored plays, most recently Wroth’s Love’s Victory. A good deal of writing about women’s drama now exists, including my book Playing Spaces. I have made this selection to encourage you to discover the plays for yourselves. I hope you enjoy reading, and perhaps watching or acting, them.

Alison's book list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day

Alison Findlay Why did Alison love this book?

I found this historical novel about the life of Mary Sidney Hebert, the Countess of Pembroke really enjoyable because it offers me the fantasy of filling in the gaps in the historical record about one of the early women writers.

I find it impressive because it draws on years of research on Mary Sidney Herbert by the author who is a renowned literary critic. Miller tells Mary Sidney Herbert’s story ingeniously by paralleling it with the life of a fictional character, Rose, who serves as her waiting woman.

Although I know the historical facts, the twists and turns in the narrative successfully cast new light on how I read Mary Sidney Herbert’s poetry and her play Antonius, though, for me, the co-authorship that the novel imagines remains entirely fictional.

By Naomi Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Imperfect Alchemist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A remarkable life lost to history is brought into sharp focus

England, 1575. Young Mary Sidney is bearing a devastating loss while her father plans her alliance to Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. But Mary is determined to make her mark on the world as a writer and scientist.

As Mary Sidney Herbert steps into her new life with the earl at his home, Wilton House, an unusual friendship is forged between her and servant Rose Commin, a country girl with a surprising artistic gift, that will change their lives for ever.

Defying the conventions of their time, mistress and…


Book cover of The Convent of Pleasure and Other Plays

Alison Findlay Author Of Love's Victory: By Lady Mary Wroth

From my list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most people have not heard of a female playwright before Aphra Behn so I’ve been passionate about restoring the work of Shakespeare’s ‘sisters’, or female contemporaries, to the stage and to public awareness. Early play scripts by women are often dismissed as ‘closet drama’: unperformed, not written for performance, and unperformable. To challenge such assumptions, I staged productions of female-authored plays, most recently Wroth’s Love’s Victory. A good deal of writing about women’s drama now exists, including my book Playing Spaces. I have made this selection to encourage you to discover the plays for yourselves. I hope you enjoy reading, and perhaps watching or acting, them.

Alison's book list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day

Alison Findlay Why did Alison love this book?

This modern edition gives readers a sample plays by the remarkable Margaret Cavendish, who privately published 2 volumes of plays in 1662 and 1668 though many were probably written earlier.

I find her plays fascinating for the ways they deal explicitly with women’s experiences in love, in war and in marriage.

In this selection Love’s Adventures Parts I and II features a cross-dressing heroine in pursuit of her intended husband; Bell In Campo Parts I and II, dramatizes the experience of a superheroine leading an army, while The Bridals and The Convent of Pleasure satirize love and marriage.

I love The Convent of Pleasure’s depictions of same-sex retreat and desire. Cavendish’s witty prefaces on the difficulties of writing plays for a woman are included as appendices to Shaver’s edition.

By Margaret Cavendish, Anne Shaver (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Convent of Pleasure and Other Plays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-1673), until recently remembered more as a flamboyant eccentric than as a serious writer, was in fact the most prolific, thought-provoking, and original woman writer of the Restoration. Cavendish is the author of many poems, short stories, biographies, memoirs, letters, philosophical and scientific works (including The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World, the first work of science fiction by a woman), and nineteen plays. "The Convent of Pleasure" and Other Plays collects four of Cavendish's dramatic works that are among the most revealing of her attitudes toward marriage and her desire for…


Book cover of Shakespeare, Our Contemporary

Stephen Kinzer Author Of The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War

From my list on to understand Shakespeare and his times.

Why am I passionate about this?

My book is about political intrigue, violence, war, heroes and villains, libels and dreams, secret plots to overthrow governments, and murders most foul. It unfolds during a tense era of cultural upheaval and radical social change. A lifetime immersed in the works of Shakespeare helped prepare me to write it. I spent more than 20 years working for the New York Times, most of it as a foreign correspondent. My foreign postings placed me at the center of historic events and, at times, in the line of fire.

Stephen's book list on to understand Shakespeare and his times

Stephen Kinzer Why did Stephen love this book?

This classic work, first published in the 1960s, interprets Shakespeare’s work as portraying societies corrupted by injustice, cynical political maneuvering, and government surveillance. When it first appeared in the 1960s, it made Shakespeare’s plays seem chillingly relevant. It has the same effect today.

By Jan Kott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shakespeare, Our Contemporary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Penelope is about to turn eleven and can't wait to see what life has in store. But on the morning of her birthday, Pen- elope wakens to discover she can no longer hear, just as the Pied Piper, leads the other children of Hamelin out of town. Now Penelope must set out to rescue the children. Age 10 plus.


Book cover of Shakespeare the Man

Jacopo della Quercia Author Of License to Quill: A Novel of Shakespeare & Marlowe

From my list on understanding the dark side of Shakespeare's world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I prefer to write historical fiction because so many fascinating stories have already happened in the past, and these tales are filled with real-life characters with rich backstories and personalities. I try to find the best historical figures and scenarios I can through exhaustive research and then stitch them together into thrillers that mesh seamlessly with the history I researched. My books are written to educate and entertain, and nothing makes me prouder than when readers follow the breadcrumb trails I leave behind for further research. I hope you enjoy the hunt!

Jacopo's book list on understanding the dark side of Shakespeare's world

Jacopo della Quercia Why did Jacopo love this book?

Shakespeare the Man is not the best book out there on William Shakespeare. There are many others that are better researched and less opinionated. However, Rowse gave me the best impression of what Shakespeare has meant to centuries of dramatists and researchers. It was recommended to me by the late Dr. John M. Bell of NYU, who was the most knowledgeable man on Shakespeare I've ever known. I see why he recommended this. It's a short but thorough read, and very enjoyable. Just don't treat Rowse's every word as gospel. His book is about Shakespeare, the man and myth.

By A.L. Rowse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shakespeare the Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A leading historian probes into Shakespeare's background and creative genius in an attempt to create a portrait of the Elizabethan


Book cover of De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem

Jacopo della Quercia Author Of License to Quill: A Novel of Shakespeare & Marlowe

From my list on understanding the dark side of Shakespeare's world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I prefer to write historical fiction because so many fascinating stories have already happened in the past, and these tales are filled with real-life characters with rich backstories and personalities. I try to find the best historical figures and scenarios I can through exhaustive research and then stitch them together into thrillers that mesh seamlessly with the history I researched. My books are written to educate and entertain, and nothing makes me prouder than when readers follow the breadcrumb trails I leave behind for further research. I hope you enjoy the hunt!

Jacopo's book list on understanding the dark side of Shakespeare's world

Jacopo della Quercia Why did Jacopo love this book?

De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem ["On the Fabric of the Human Body in Seven Books"] will likely catch you by surprise since, unlike most books featured on this website, this one was printed back in 1543. Fortunately, this means that anyone with a working Internet connection and web browser can access this mystifying medical atlas from the sixteenth century. Annotated editions of On the Fabric of the Human Body are available online from numerous medical colleges, so please take the time to find and appreciate this masterpiece of anatomy and artistic imagination.

By A. Vesalius, G. Hartenfels, J. Dalton

Why should I read it?

1 author picked De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book, "De humani corporis fabrica libri septem", by A. Vesalius, J. Dalton, G. Hartenfels, is a replication of a book originally published before 1568. It has been restored by human beings, page by page, so that you may enjoy it in a form as close to the original as possible.


Book cover of The Birds of Shakespeare: Critically examined, explained, and illustrated

Lesley Adkins Author Of When There Were Birds

From my list on the history of British birds.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having grown up on the south coast of Hampshire, I love both the countryside and the sea. After studying ancient history, archaeology, and Latin at the University of Bristol, I worked for many years as a field archaeologist and met my husband Roy on an excavation of a Roman villa at Milton Keynes. We have worked together ever since, as archaeologists and as authors of books on archaeology, ancient history, naval history, and social history. Our wide-ranging interests proved invaluable when writing our book When There Were Birds.

Lesley's book list on the history of British birds

Lesley Adkins Why did Lesley love this book?

Also known as The Ornithology of Shakespeare, James Edmund Harting published this book in 1871 as a detailed analysis of all the references to birds in Shakespeare’s plays. He shows that to Shakespeare and his audience, birds and field sports were second nature. His book starts with Shakespeare’s general knowledge of natural history and then tackles different types of birds, such as those with song and the owl and its associations. Harting was an extremely knowledgeable ornithologist and hawker, and his book is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand Shakespeare.

By James Edmund Harting,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Birds of Shakespeare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Leather Binding on Spine and Corners with Golden Leaf Printing on round Spine (extra customization on request like complete leather, Golden Screen printing in Front, Color Leather, Colored book etc.) Reprinted in 2021 with the help of original edition published long back [1871]. This book is printed in black & white, sewing binding for longer life, Printed on high quality Paper, re-sized as per Current standards, professionally processed without changing its contents. As these are old books, we processed each page manually and make them readable but in some cases some pages which are blur or missing or black spots.…


Book cover of A Dead Man in Deptford

Clarissa Pattern Author Of Airy Nothing

From my list on wherein a fictional Shakespeare enters stage right.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first saw Shakespearean text, I could not get how anyone related to things written so many centuries ago. It took me several years before my soul awakened to these words that now felt fresh, like they could have been whispered to me that very day by a best friend who understood all the pain and all the laughter of my life. Very little is known about the man himself leaving writers a lot of room to create their own version of Shakespeare. I know my Shakespeare is just that: my magical, enigmatic, wise Shakespeare. It’s exciting to see how others give him life in their own stories.

Clarissa's book list on wherein a fictional Shakespeare enters stage right

Clarissa Pattern Why did Clarissa love this book?

A Dead Man in Deptford was the last published novel of Anthony Burgess’s lifetime and can be seen as a companion piece to his earlier fictional biography of William Shakespeare, Nothing Like the Sun. A Dead Man in Deptford follows Christopher Marlowe’s life, and Will of Warwickshire lurks very very much in the background of this novel. This somehow adds to the poignancy, as even within his own story, the reader is always aware that Marlowe’s era will be dominated by the name of William Shakespeare. 

By Anthony Burgess,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Dead Man in Deptford as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of the most productive, imaginative and risk-taking of writers... It is a clever, sexually explicit, fast-moving, full blooded yarn'
Irish Times

A Dead Man in Deptford re-imagines the riotous life and suspicious death of Christopher Marlowe. Poet, lover and spy, Marlowe must negotiate the pressures placed upon him by theatre, Queen and country. Burgess brings this dazzling figure to life and pungently evokes Elizabethan England.


Book cover of Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year

Decimus Erasmus Buglawton Author Of Debugging Shakespeare

From my list on who William Shakespeare really was.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about solving problems of any type. I have a long history of solving Computer problems that are known traditionally as “bugs”. After retiring, I turned my attention to other problems & mysteries, discovering I had a talent for historical detective work too! I wasn’t satisfied with the - very unconvincing - traditional “chocolate box” narrative of Shakespeare’s family and life. He must have had much more impact on the wider world than is currently known and I believe, after 450 years, I finally cracked it!

Decimus' book list on who William Shakespeare really was

Decimus Erasmus Buglawton Why did Decimus love this book?

This book can be glanced at just on a day to day basis, mostly for fun!

Each date of the year has a page dedicated to one particular aspect of the Bard’s works, meaning you can add to your knowledge of the Bard a day at a time. I keep it by my bedside and look at it each morning before getting up!

By Allie Esiri (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

From Allie Esiri, editor of the bestselling A Poem for Every Day of the Year and A Poem for Every Night of the Year, comes this beautiful gift anthology of Shakespeare's works.

William Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays, 154 sonnets and a handful of longer poems and you can discover them all here. Each page of this unique collection contains an extract, which might be a famous poem, quote or scene, matched to the date. Allie Esiri's introductions give her readers a new window into the work, time and life of the greatest writer in the English language.

Shakespeare…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in William Shakespeare, the Elizabethan era, and London?

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