Synopses & Reviews
In the last ten years, virtually every previously known fact about Shakespeare has been modified by new research. Park Honan draws on this new information to dramatically alter our perceptions of the actor, poet, and playwright.
Here is virtually all that can be factually known or reasonably speculated about Shakespeare's life. Readers will find a vivid picture of what Shakespeare's childhood might have been like in the small English town of Stratford, which had but a dozen streets in 1560. We meet his father, John Shakespeare, the glovemaker of Henley Street, who rose to the office of High Bailiff and Justice of the Peace before he was beset by financial difficulties. There is a fascinating portrait of London and of the life of an Elizabethan actor (a neophyte Shakespeare may have had to learn as many as a hundred small parts per season). Honan casts new light on the young poet's relationships--his early courtship of Anne Hathaway, their marriage, his attitudes to women such as Jennet Davenant, Marie Mountjoy, and his own daughters--illuminating Shakespeare's needs, habits, passions, and concerns. The author shows in fresh detail that Shakespeare was well acquainted with violent crime and murder in daily life. And he also examines the world of the playing companies--the power of patronage, theatrical conditions, and personal rivalries--to reveal the relationship between the man and the writing.
Park Honan's Shakespeare casts new light on a complex and fascinating life, illuminating Shakespeare's extraordinary development into the greatest dramatist of his or any age.
"If you have never read a book about William Shakespeare, please read this one....Exceptional....Honan examines virtually all of Shakespeare's work in impressive detail, weaving his staggeringly clear knowledge of establishable historic fact with literary scholarship."--Michael Parkenham, Baltimore Sun
A wealth of material about one of the most famous playwrights, actors, and poets casts new light on a complex and fascinating life, illuminating his extraordinary development into the greatest dramatist of his or any age. A 1999 "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year. 34 halftones.
A narrative of Shakespeare's life using new information to alter the reader's perceptions of the actor, poet and playwright and his development as an artist.
About the Author
is Emeritus Professor at the School of English, University of Leeds. He has written biographies of Jane Austen, Matthew Arnold, and Robert Browning, and lives in the United Kingdom.
Table of Contents
Part I: A Stratford Youth
Mother of the Child
3. John Shakespeare's Fortunes
4. To Grammar School
5. Opportunity and Need
6. Love and Early Marriage
Part II: Actor and Poet of the London Stage
7. To London and the Amphitheatre Players
9. The City in September
10. A Patron, Poems, and Company Work
11. A Servant of the Lord Chamberlain
12. New Place and the Country
Part III: The Maturity of Genius
13. South of Julius Caesar's Tower
14. Hamlet's Questions
15. The King's Servants
16. The Tragic Sublime
Part IV: The Last Phase
17. Tales and Tempests
18. A Gentleman's Choices
Appendix A: The families of Arden and Shakespeare
Appendix B: Descendants of Shakespeare's nephew Thomas Hart (b. 1605) down to the sale of the Birthplace in 1806
Appendix C: A note on the Shakespeare biographical tradition and sources for his life