Shakespeare : For All Time

4.18 (48 ratings by Goodreads)
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An entertaining, authoritative and informative account of Shakespeare's life work and legacy from our leading Shakespearean scholar. The first part of the book is an evocative biographical sketch, scotching many myths - was Shakespeare Catholic? Was Anne Hathaway pregnant when they married? How could the son of a provincial glovemaker become the greatest playwright the world has known? The book fleshes out the meagre facts into a rounded portrait of the man. Wells then turns his attention to the plays themselves, their structure, their content and the language which has proved so memorable over so many centuries. Finally, he takes us through the centuries since Shakespeare's death discussing the critical legacy both here and abroad, vivid portraits of the great Shakespeareans, from Garrick to Mrs Siddons, from Kean to Irving, from Olivier to Branagh and riveting accounts of the myriad ways Shakespeare has been performed in the last four hundred more

Product details

  • Hardback | 356 pages
  • 192 x 246 x 38mm | 1,660.17g
  • Pan MacMillan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Unabridged
  • Unabridged
  • 150 black & white illustrations, 32 colour illustrations
  • 0333904990
  • 9780333904992
  • 1,403,795

About Stanley Wells

Stanley Wells is Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Birmingham, Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Vice-Chairman of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. He is also General Editor of the Oxford Shakespeare series and of the Oxford Complete more

Review Text

What can be said about the greatest playwright the world has ever known that hasn't been said countless times before? There are scholarly works on his use of language and his sources, books speculating on his family background and his sexuality, not to mention numerous articles suggesting he never wrote the plays in the first place. Yet Stanley Wells, Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Birmingham and author of many respected works on Shakespeare, has produced a book destined to become a classic in its own right: this is a work of eminent scholarship which is also immensely readable. Wells begins with an historical perspective, recounting Shakespeare's early life in Stratford and his move to London to become a leading playwright. He tackles the known facts about Shakespeare's life with an irresistible freshness and vitality, and delights in debunking long-cherished myths. For example, he refutes the widely accepted notion of Shakespeare as heartless rogue, abandoning wife and family to go to London to live with his 'Dark Lady', by pointing out that Stratford was only three days' journey from London; this suggests that Shakespeare was one of England's first commuters. Wells brings his immense experience and scholarship to bear in his chapter on Shakespeare's writing, and his critical analysis is both accessible and erudite. Shakespeare was first and foremost a playwright, and Wells discusses the plays in the context of the theatre of the time. He has no truck with the view that Shakespeare was primarily a poet: 'He was a poetic dramatist, because at his best he conceived of story, plot, action, character and language as a whole, one deeply interrelated with the other.' Later chapters examine the theatrical history of the plays, as Wells discusses a huge range of productions throughout the world in a variety of cultures and languages. He also considers how Shakespeare influenced not only other writers, but also artists and musicians, and traces his ever-increasing popularity to the present day. This is a glorious account of Shakespeare's literary heritage and his continuing relevance for successive generations. It is a masterpiece of scholarship which will be read with equal pleasure by experts and those who have yet to become familiar with the works of this great writer. (Kirkus UK)show more

Review quote

Beautifully designed and lavishly illustrated, this is the definitive account of Shakespeare's life, work and legacy from Britain's leading Shakespearean more

Rating details

48 ratings
4.18 out of 5 stars
5 35% (17)
4 52% (25)
3 8% (4)
2 4% (2)
1 0% (0)
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