100 books like Shakespeare on Silent Film

By Judith Buchanan,

Here are 100 books that Shakespeare on Silent Film fans have personally recommended if you like Shakespeare on Silent Film. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Exhibiting Englishness: John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery and the Formation of a National Aesthetic

Sally Barnden Author Of Still Shakespeare and the Photography of Performance

From my list on Shakespeare’s plays and the visual arts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I studied Shakespeare’s works as an undergraduate, I became intrigued by the questions of why and how we got to the point where Shakespeare’s name is recognised all over the world, his plays are quoted in everyday conversation, and his works are central to every English Literature course. I’ve pursued these questions in my academic research, where I look at the history of Shakespeare in performance, but also at how these performances are remembered in souvenirs, pictures, and objects. 

Sally's book list on Shakespeare’s plays and the visual arts

Sally Barnden Why did Sally love this book?

This book offers an art historian’s take on an exhibition that created a recognisable genre of ‘Shakespeare painting’ and included many paintings which informed illustration and stage design for generations. Rosie Dias looks at the connection between Boydell’s Gallery and English nationalism, noting that the gallery launched at the time of the French Revolution and of George III’s first attack of mental illness. Dias gives sensitive and informative readings of individual paintings and addresses the exhibition itself as a social and cultural event with a long-lasting influence. 

By Rosie Dias,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the late 18th century, as a wave of English nationalism swept the country, the printseller John Boydell set out to create an ambitious exhibition space, one devoted to promoting and fostering a distinctly English style of history painting. With its very name, the Shakespeare Gallery signaled to Londoners that the artworks on display shared an undisputed quality and a national spirit. Exhibiting Englishness explores the responses of key artists of the period to Boydell's venture and sheds new light on the gallery's role in the larger context of British art.

Tracking the shift away from academic and Continental European…


Book cover of Hamlet and the Visual Arts, 1709-1900

Sally Barnden Author Of Still Shakespeare and the Photography of Performance

From my list on Shakespeare’s plays and the visual arts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I studied Shakespeare’s works as an undergraduate, I became intrigued by the questions of why and how we got to the point where Shakespeare’s name is recognised all over the world, his plays are quoted in everyday conversation, and his works are central to every English Literature course. I’ve pursued these questions in my academic research, where I look at the history of Shakespeare in performance, but also at how these performances are remembered in souvenirs, pictures, and objects. 

Sally's book list on Shakespeare’s plays and the visual arts

Sally Barnden Why did Sally love this book?

Alan R. Young’s close focus on an individual play over nearly two centuries shows how far images can shape our ideas of what a play is about. He looks at paintings, illustrations, prints, photographs, and comic burlesques, demonstrating the incredible variety of images which have been inspired by Hamlet. I find Young’s chronological approach incredibly helpful, since it shows how one image influences another, and how representations of a single scene can change over time in line with fashions in the art world. 

By Alan R. Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hamlet and the Visual Arts, 1709-1900 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book examines the manner in which Shakespeare's Hamlet was perceived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and represented in the available visual media. The more than 2,000 visual images of Hamlet that the author has identified both reflected the critical reception of the play and simultaneously influenced the history of the ever-changing constructed cultural phenomenon that we refer to as Shakespeare.


Book cover of The Afterlife of Ophelia

Sally Barnden Author Of Still Shakespeare and the Photography of Performance

From my list on Shakespeare’s plays and the visual arts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I studied Shakespeare’s works as an undergraduate, I became intrigued by the questions of why and how we got to the point where Shakespeare’s name is recognised all over the world, his plays are quoted in everyday conversation, and his works are central to every English Literature course. I’ve pursued these questions in my academic research, where I look at the history of Shakespeare in performance, but also at how these performances are remembered in souvenirs, pictures, and objects. 

Sally's book list on Shakespeare’s plays and the visual arts

Sally Barnden Why did Sally love this book?

If Young’s focus on just one play seemed hyper-specific, this book takes it a step further by looking at the afterlife of a single character from Hamlet. Deanne Williams and Kaara L. Peterson have brought together chapters looking at Ophelia in painting, photography, film, stage design, and even on social media. The international group of authors looks at Ophelia from different perspectives and demonstrates her connections with the history of women’s physical and mental health. The striking photograph on the cover – Gregory Crewdson’s Untitled (Ophelia) is a key example of the collection’s scope: it restages a famous nineteenth-century painting of the drowning Ophelia, but sets it in a modern living room. 

By Kaara L. Peterson (editor), Deanne Williams (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This collection of new essays is the first to explore the rich afterlife of one of Shakespeare's most recognizable characters. With contributions from an international group of established and emerging scholars, The Afterlife of Ophelia moves beyond the confines of existing scholarship and forges new lines of inquiry beyond Shakespeare studies.


Book cover of Shakespeare, Performance and the Archive

Sally Barnden Author Of Still Shakespeare and the Photography of Performance

From my list on Shakespeare’s plays and the visual arts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I studied Shakespeare’s works as an undergraduate, I became intrigued by the questions of why and how we got to the point where Shakespeare’s name is recognised all over the world, his plays are quoted in everyday conversation, and his works are central to every English Literature course. I’ve pursued these questions in my academic research, where I look at the history of Shakespeare in performance, but also at how these performances are remembered in souvenirs, pictures, and objects. 

Sally's book list on Shakespeare’s plays and the visual arts

Sally Barnden Why did Sally love this book?

Barbara Hodgdon’s sensitive, thoughtful, and often funny writing about how we remember Shakespeare's performances was one of the main reasons I wanted to explore this topic; her essay "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Still" shaped my thinking about Shakespeare's photography. This book reflects on her lifetime of theatregoing and puts personal memories and souvenirs into conversation with other kinds of records – photographs, sketches, prompt books, and props. In the process she explores the relationship between rehearsal, performance, and archives. Her approach is consciously playful, acknowledging the role of the imagination in the workings of memory.

By Barbara Hodgdon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shakespeare, Performance and the Archive is a ground-breaking and movingly written exploration of what remains when actors evacuate the space and time of performance. An analysis of 'leftovers', it moves between tracking the politics of what is consciously archived and the politics of visible and invisible theatrical labour to trace the persistence of performance.

In this fascinating volume, Hodgdon considers how documents, material objects, sketches, drawings and photographs explore scenarios of action and behaviour - and embodied practices. Rather than viewing these leftovers as indexical signs of a theatrical past, Hodgdon argues that the work they do is neither strictly…


Book cover of The Making of the Wizard of Oz

Thomas S. Hischak Author Of 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

From my list on 1939 Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing books about film, theatre, and popular music since 1991 but my love of old movies goes back much further. Before VCRs, DVDs, and streaming, one could only catch these old films on television (often cut to allow for commercial time) or revival houses. Today even the more obscure movies from 1939 are attainable. Writing 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year gave me the opportunity to revisit dozens of old favorites and to see the many also-rans of that remarkable year.

Thomas' book list on 1939 Hollywood

Thomas S. Hischak Why did Thomas love this book?

Released for the 75th anniversary of another 1939 classic, this book about the beloved favorite The Wizard of Oz is probably the best of the handful written over the years. All the familiar stories are here, a few myths are debunked, and some new information is brought to light. The story of the making of this classic is as engaging as fiction. In addition to interviews with surviving production crew personnel, the book also has some rarely seen photos. 

By Aljean Harmetz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Making of the Wizard of Oz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Released in conjunction with the 75th-anniversary DVD release of The Wizard of Oz, this book is the definitive story of how one of America’s most beloved movies was made and a marvelous, unprecedented examination of how Hollywood used to make movies. This updated edition includes numerous photos and shares hundreds of interviews with cameramen, screenwriters, costume designers, directors, producers, light technicians, actors, and more to reveal how the factory-like Hollywood system of moviemaking miraculously produced one of the most enduring films ever made. From the scandalous headlines of Munchkin orgies at the Culver City Hotel and the Witch’s (accidental) burning…


Book cover of Ben-Hur: The Original Blockbuster

Martin M. Winkler Author Of Arminius the Liberator: Myth and Ideology

From my list on ideological and popular uses of ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor of Classics at George Mason University. I learned about ancient Romans and Greeks in my native Germany, when I attended a humanist high school, possibly the oldest in the country. (It was founded during the reign of Charlemagne, as the eastern half of the Roman Empire was still flourishing.) My mother once informed me that I betrayed my passion for stories long before I could read because I enthusiastically used to tear pages out of books. In my teens I became fascinated with stories told in moving images. I have been a bibliophile and, em, cinemaniac ever since and have pursued both my obsessions in my publications.

Martin's book list on ideological and popular uses of ancient Rome

Martin M. Winkler Why did Martin love this book?

Solomon’s gargantuan tome is a labor of love, offering a comprehensive tribute to General Lew Wallace’s epic historical novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, from 1880.

Solomon traces its genesis, composition (during which Wallace, previously not a devout believer, saw the light), publication, and sensational worldwide impact in all manner of modern media, which even included Ben-His and Ben-Hers towels.

After stage adaptations with thrilling on-stage chariot races, the cinema took over. The appropriately big MGM production of 1959 can boast what was for decades believed to be the most spectacular action sequence ever filmed. In a nod to contemporary politics, an Arab sheik puts a Star of David on Ben-Hur just before the race. And the film’s Romans closely resemble Nazis—not for the first or last time.

By Jon Solomon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ben-Hur as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ben-Hur was the first literary blockbuster to generate multiple and hugely profitable adaptations, highlighted by the 1959 film that won a record-setting 11 Oscars. General Lew Wallace's book was spun off into dozens of popular publications and media productions, becoming a veritable commercial brand name that earned tens of millions of dollars.

Ben-Hur: The Original Blockbuster surveys the Ben-Hur phenomenon's unprecedented range and extraordinary endurance: various editions, spin-off publications, stage productions, movies, comic books, radio plays, and retail products were successfully marketed and sold from the 1880s and throughout the twentieth century. Today Ben-Hur Live is touring Europe and Asia,…


Book cover of The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook

Paul Kidby Author Of Terry Pratchett's Discworld Imaginarium

From my list on beautiful draughtmanship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a self-taught artist and sometimes a sculptor. I'm best known for illustrating the Discworld novels of Sir Terry Pratchett which I have been working on for almost 30 years. Not having had formal training, looking at the work of other artists was an important part of my learning. I have a large collection of art books and have been inspired by all sorts of creatives ranging from Leonardo Da Vinci to Jamie Hewlett. I'm often drawn to draughts-people who have a scientific approach to their work and limited use of colour. If I can’t escape to a gallery for inspiration I can always turn to the pages of a book.

Paul's book list on beautiful draughtmanship

Paul Kidby Why did Paul love this book?

My sister read the Lord of the Rings trilogy to me when I was a kid while we were on holiday in Scotland and it was hugely inspiring. Growing up I thought I would like to illustrate the books - until Alan Lee did it so perfectly. No one can better his interpretation, as Peter Jackson will agree. His delicate pencil work and subtle use of colour have always, for me, set the bar for illustration. A highlight of my career has been having my own work exhibited alongside his.

By Alan Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alan Lee, the Oscar-winning conceptual designer for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, discusses his approach to depicting Tolkien’s imaginary world. The book presents more than 150 of Lee’s celebrated illustrations to show how his imagery for both the illustrated Lord of the Rings and the films progressed from concept to finished art. In addition, the book contains 20 full-color plates and numerous examples of the conceptual art produced for Peter Jackson’s film adaptation.

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook provides a wealth of background information and will be of interest to those who know and love Tolkien’s work,…


Book cover of Platoon

Michael Prime Author Of Kristoff Kent: NYC Psycho

From my list on book to movie adaptations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always enjoyed reading the books from which movies are derived from or from which are written after the movie is released, and add more in-depth analysis to the characters and story. Mostly though, I’ve seen the movie first, then read the book. The book almost always has more information about the characters, their reactions, emotions, and feelings. Sometimes, as in the case of Rounders by Kevin Canty, you find out where and what the main character is up to after the end credits roll. Book versus movie: Which is better? It’s a debate that will be here till the end of time. 

Michael's book list on book to movie adaptations

Michael Prime Why did Michael love this book?

The book (which came out after a few months of the movie), is written by military veteran Dale E. Dye, who served in the Marines during the Vietnam War.

The book takes the reader from the beginnings of a 'wet behind the ears' (Chris Taylor) Private entering Vietnam, and ending with an 'almost' seasoned veteran. The descriptions Dye gives of the scenery, the men, the voices, being in the brush or jungle, truly is remarkable.

When I read this, I felt like I could literally see everything Chris Taylor did through his own eyes. There's a lot more depth to the characters than in the movie. I feel this is one of the most underrated books among readers because most do not know it even exists. The book gives you a greater understanding of why Sgt. Barnes is the man he is, from his background and his thoughts.

If you…

By Dale A. Dye,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

250 p. pages. 17 x 11 cm. Broché.  traduit de l'américain par France-Marie Watkins


Book cover of Silent Fear

John Morris Author Of The Gatekeeper and the Guardian

From my list on fiction for curious minds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to read a good story, but I also get the greatest satisfaction from writing one, or several. I believe good fiction can say what factual books cannot, and done right, they can offer differing perspectives to any accepted norm. The trick is to let the characters speak, regardless of whether I agree with what they say, or not. The secret to good presentation is to offer the reader the choice to think about what has been said, consider and delve deeper, or not and pass by.

John's book list on fiction for curious minds

John Morris Why did John love this book?

Silent Fear is a stunning mystery novel, scary because it is set in an institute for the blind during a lockdown. There is a serial killer on the loose and no inmates have the ability to see their persecutor. Yes, this one gets right inside your mind and I felt privileged to read it.

By Lance Morcan, James Morcan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When you can't hear...death comes silently.

Scotland Yard detective Valerie Crowther is assigned to investigate the murder of a student at a university for the Deaf in London, England. The murder investigation coincides with a deadly flu virus outbreak, resulting in the university being quarantined from the outside world.

When more Deaf students are murdered, it becomes clear there is a serial killer operating within the sealed-off university. A chilling cat-and-mouse game evolves as the unknown killer targets Valerie and the virus claims more lives.

A stunning, claustrophobic, "whodunit" murder mystery, Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes) is…


Book cover of A New and Glorious Life

Stephanie Harrison Author Of Adaptations: From Short Story to Big Screen: 35 Great Stories That Have Inspired Great Films

From my list on stories that have been adapted again and again.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid, I looked forward to Fridays. Not just because it was the end of a school week, but because that’s when the TV Guide arrived with the morning newspaper. While I ate my cereal, I’d circle the movies I wanted to watch the following week. If they were late-late movies, I’d set my alarm and get up and watch them alone in the living room (with the sound turned way down). I was also an avid reader, and it wasn’t long before I started pairing my reading and my viewing. I still do that, with a special interest in short stories and their film adaptations. 

Stephanie's book list on stories that have been adapted again and again

Stephanie Harrison Why did Stephanie love this book?

Part of the allure of Chekhov’s story is the unanswered question, Will they, or won’t they? The answer, I think, may depend on where you are in your own life when you read it. Michelle Herman’s novella, “A New and Glorious Life,” reworks and expands the story, letting you linger a while longer with the lovers before they part. I think this gives them a better chance, but who knows? Joyce Carol Oates also reimagined this story in her collection Marriages and Infidelities. Vintage Oates, it reads like a fever dream.

The first film adaptation, The Lady with the Dog, made under the Soviet censor’s watchful eye, is an almost literal translation of the story. Dark Eyes, a later Soviet-Italian coproduction, stars Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni and strays pretty far from the source.

By Michelle Herman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A New and Glorious Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Reading Michelle Herman's new collection is like eating Godiva chocolates, something so exquisitely enjoyable you can't get enough of it. How often,in this day and age, does one get to read a love story which is also a literary gem? These novellas are the stuff of classics."
--Marly Swick

"These novellas have a psychological depth and acute worldliness one associates with continental fiction. Michelle Herman's sympathies bridge generations and genders; her intelligence conveys both the lovingness and coldness of the way we live now. Her work is a sophisticated pleasure."
--Philip Lopate

"These three novellas are three gems, each with…


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