10 books like Shakespeare's Kings

By John Julius Norwich,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Shakespeare's Kings. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Shakespeare, Our Contemporary

By Jan Kott,

Book cover of Shakespeare, Our Contemporary

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.

Shakespeare, Our Contemporary

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.


Soul of the Age

By Jonathan Bate,

Book cover of Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare

Critics argue that William Shakespeare did not write the works attributed to him because he lacked the knowledge of classical myth and history basic to his plots and imagery. Jonathan Bates proves that the curriculum of the grammar school in Stratford-on-Avon provided an education sufficient to explain Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Bate reviews books in English and Latin that Shakespeare would have read and that created his rhetorical brilliance. 

I treasure Bate’s biography because my own background originated in a rural, agricultural setting outside the social and economic circles that usually produce academic types. Bates disproves the fallacy that only the privileged and elite can survive and thrive in life and careers.

Soul of the Age

By Jonathan Bate,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Soul of the Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“One man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”

In this illuminating, innovative biography, Jonathan Bate, one of today’s most accomplished Shakespearean scholars, has found a fascinating new way to tell the story of the great dramatist. Using the Bard’s own immortal list of a man’s seven ages in As You Like It, Bate deduces the crucial events of Shakespeare’s life and connects them to his world and work as never before.

Here is the author as an infant, born into a world of plague and syphillis, diseases with which he became closely familiar; as a…


Will in the World

By Stephen Greenblatt,

Book cover of Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

A literary biography, Will in the World connects the plots of Shakespeare’s plays and the sentiments of his poems to the writer’s life and career. No one living knows more about Shakespeare than Stephen Greenblatt. His research is solid and impressive. In this book, Greenblatt verges a bit into speculative possibilities. Where, exactly, was Shakespeare living—what was he doing?—during “The Lost Years”? Was the “Shakeshafte” mentioned in a Lancashire document our man, perhaps tutoring as a schoolmaster in a Catholic home? 

Greenblatt carefully points out that he is discussing possibilities, not certainties. But a possibility mentioned too many times by a scholar of Greenblatt’s authority often becomes accepted as fact. Yet, I appreciate this book because it provides a huge amount of information about Shakespeare’s milieu, and it forces readers to examine critically every claim. In our current milieu, we need exercises in critical thinking and analysis.

Will in the World

By Stephen Greenblatt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Will in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time. How is an achievement of this magnitude to be explained? Stephen Greenblatt brings us down to earth to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life, could have become the world's greatest playwright.


Contested Will

By James Shapiro,

Book cover of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Shakespeare scholars hate discussing the “authorship question” for the same reason astronomers hate discussing whether space aliens kidnap human beings. There is no real “question.” But because guessing who wrote the plays has become such a parlor game, James Shapiro took on the challenge. His book tells the crazy history of the “authorship question” and makes irrefutably clear that yes, the fellow from Stratford really did write those plays. This should settle the issue forever—but of course it won’t.

Contested Will

By James Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For two hundred years after William Shakespeare's death, no one thought to argue that somebody else had written his plays.

Since then dozens of rival candidates - including The Earl of Oxford, Sir Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe - have been proposed as their true author. Contested Will unravels the mystery of when and why so many people began to question whether Shakespeare wrote the plays (among them such leading writers and artists as Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Orson Welles, and Sir Derek Jacobi)

Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro's fascinating search for the source of this controversy…


Under the Hog

By Patrick Carleton,

Book cover of Under the Hog: A Novel of Richard III

Academic books too dry? Primary sources too intimidating? Find a copy of Under the Hog, a historical novel set in the War of the Roses in 15th century England that is perhaps the best historical novel ever — certainly the best written by a pseudonymous author! It gives a variety of close-up views of medieval combat, politics, and culture, and is a favorite among folks who think that king Richard III of England (yes, the evil hunchback of Shakespeare’s depiction) got a reputational raw deal from the Bard. 

Under the Hog

By Patrick Carleton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

‘This is still one of the best novels on the life of Richard III’ - The Richard III Society

England, 1471.

In a kingdom rent by civil strife Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is determined to keep the Royal House of York on the throne and bring peace to England.

His unswerving support of his brother, Edward IV, against the conspiracies of both their turncoat brother George, Duke of Clarence, and the powerful Lancastrian claimants, wins him many enemies.

And when fate destines him to take the throne, he is forced to quell the rebellions of Lord Rivers and the Duke…


Agincourt

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of Agincourt: A Novel

Cornwell is one of the best—if not the best—historical novelists writing today. In Azincourt, we follow one English longbowman on an epic adventure that culminates in one of the most famous battles in history. Cornwell deftly weaves in authentic period detail without hitting you over the head with it. Most importantly, he is a master of characterisation and rich prose who makes you truly care about the people on the page. Leavened with humor, grittiness, and an engaging romance set amidst war, I found it a compelling and moving read.

Agincourt

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An extraordinary and dramatic depiction of the legendary battle of Agincourt from the number one historical novelist

Azincourt, fought on October 25th 1415, St Crispin's Day, is one of England's best-known battles, in part through the brilliant depiction of it in Shakespeare's Henry V, in part because it was a brilliant and unexpected English victory and in part because it was the first battle won by the use of the longbow - a weapon developed by the English which enabled them to dominate the European battlefields for the rest of the century.

Bernard Cornwell's Azincourt is a vivid, breathtaking and…


The Collected Stories

By William Trevor,

Book cover of The Collected Stories

Lots of men write women in middle and older age well – Jim Harrison’s short story called "The Woman Lit by Fireflies" is incredible, and of course, there’s Shakespeare. I’d like to point you to the Irish writer William Trevor, though. His collected stories begin with one called "A Meeting in Middle Age" in which the character of Mrs. da Tanka (who is seeking grounds for her second husband to divorce her by paying a man to spend a sexless night with her in a hotel bed) crackles with dissatisfaction. Trevor writes aging people with a tenderness that isn’t always immediately evident. You learn to wait for it, if you can stand the tension while you do and the heartache when it arrives.

The Collected Stories

By William Trevor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Collected Stories - a stunning volume of William Trevor's unforgettable short stories

William Trevor is one of the most renowned figures in contemporary literature, described as 'the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language' by the New Yorker and acclaimed for his haunting and profound insights into the human heart. Here is a collection of his short fiction, with dozens of tales spanning his career and ranging from the moving to the macabre, the humorous to the haunting. From the penetrating 'Memories of Youghal' to the bittersweet 'Bodily Secrets' and the elegiac 'Two More Gallants', here…


King Hereafter

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Book cover of King Hereafter

This book became my ultimate escapism at a low point in my life. It’s a wonderfully written, well-researched epic novel about the eleventh century Scottish king, Macbeth, based on the bold premise that he and Thorfinn the Mighty, Earl of Orkney, were one and the same man. Most of us—especially those who went to school in Scotland!—are familiar with the Macbeth of Shakespeare, but Dorothy Dunnett brings him alive in his own time, no guilt-ridden villain but a complicated warrior of great depth and humanity, true to his beliefs, his people, and his wife who is nothing like Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth either! This is a rattling good read by any standards—engrossing, exciting, humorous, and moving. Even knowing the tragedy was coming, I cried. Each time.

King Hereafter

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked King Hereafter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novel about Macbeth, King of Scotland, by the author of the "Lymond" series. 11th-century Europe is full of young kings. Macbeth - part-Christian, part-Viking - has the imagination and determination to move himself and his people out of a barbarian past and into flowering nationhood.


Shakespeare the Player

By John Southworth,

Book cover of Shakespeare the Player: A Life in the Theatre

Written from an actor’s perspective, Shakespeare The Player researches acting companies in Stratford-on-Avon and England during Shakespeare’s youth and adolescence. Southwark explores the possibilities of Shakespeare spending those “Lost Years” from 1585-1592 as an apprentice with acting companies. Shakespeare The Player provides otherwise obscure information about the world of the theater during Shakespeare’s formative years as an actor and writer. 

How else did Shakespeare learn the crafts of writing, playing, and directing for which Robert Greene lambasted that “upstart crow…the only Shakes-scene in a country” in 1592?

Shakespeare the Player

By John Southworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shakespeare the Player overturns traditional images of the Bard, arguing that Shakespeare cannot be separated from his profession as actor any more than he can be separated from his works.


The Birds of Shakespeare

By James Edmund Harting,

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

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.

The Birds of 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.…


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Interested in William Shakespeare, the Middle Ages, and the Wars of the Roses?

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