Synopses & Reviews
We know relatively little about Shakespeare's life, and yet it continues to fascinate us. This new biography of Shakespeare identifies and expounds the many possible 'lives' that can reasonably be drawn around the basic facts, traditions and literary remains of his legacy. Graham Holderness takes a hard and fresh look at the facts, the traditions, and the possible relations between a life and the works that life created. He offers nine possible short 'lives' of Shakespeare, each based on specific facts and traditions, drawn from the documentary record and from biographical interpretation and each supported by a body of critical and biographical work. Each section includes a critical essay detailing the biographical facts and showing how they have been interpreted, paired with a fictional narrative based on those facts. The fictional narratives use various styles, short stories, bogus historical documents, magic-realist fables. Each engages with the key facts, traditions and interpretative consensus, and creates an imaginary space in which the dry bones of historical record can be made to live.
"This year's most imaginative biography...Holderness usefully differentiates biographical 'facts' (Shakespeare was baptized on 26 April 1564 and died on 23 April 1616) from 'traditions' (Shakespeare had to leave Straford for London after being caught poaching deer) and 'speculations' (Shakespeare's Catholic Sympathies)." - Garrett A. Sullivan Jr., Studies in English Literature (SEL) 1500-1900 "[…]a studious initiative, this insight into a possible relationship between a "life and the works that life created" draws on clever use of words and ingenuity to flesh out a fiction more palatable than the fantasises from scholarly biographers." - Rama Gaind, PSNews
"[…]a studious initiative, this insight into a possible relationship between a "life and the works that life created" draws on clever use of words and ingenuity to flesh out a fiction more palatable than the fantasises from scholarly biographers." - Rama Gaind, PSNews
Who was Shakespeare and how did he live? Combining fact, tradition and imagination, Shakespeare's many lives are told in 9 possible ways.
About the Author
Graham Holderness is Professor of English at the University of Hertfordshire, author or editor of numerous studies in early modern and modern literature and drama, and General Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Critical Survey. He is also a creative writer, novelist and award-winning poet.
Table of Contents
Introduction \ 1. LIFE ONE: Shakespeare the Writer: Story: ‘The Shakespeare Code'\ 2. LIFE TWO: Shakespeare the Player: Memoir: ‘Master Shakespeare's Instructions to the Actors'\ 3. LIFE THREE: Shakespeare the Businessman: Story: ‘Best for Winter' \ 4. LIFE FOUR: Shakespeare in Love: ‘Husband, I come': Memoir: ‘Shakespeare's Ring: First Circle' \ 5. LIFE FIVE: Shakespeare in Love: ‘Fair Friend': Story: ‘The Adventure of Shakespeare's Ring' \ 6. LIFE SIX: Shakespeare in Love: ‘A Female Evil': Story: ‘Full Circle' \ 7. LIFE SEVEN: Shakespeare the Butcher Boy: Memoir: ‘Some further account of the life &c. of Mr William Shakespear' \ 8. LIFE EIGHT: Shakespeare the Catholic: Story: ‘He dyed a papist' \ 9. LIFE NINE: Shakespeare's Face: Fable: ‘An Account of a Voyage to Bardolo' \ Index