William Shakespeare: A Brief Life

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By Paul Menzer

This engaging and fresh biography begins by examining how Shakespeare's life turns into myth so comfortably as to seduce even the most sceptical scholar. The early departure, the late return. Public success, private loss. A twilight of plays about family reunions, a death at home in the biggest house in town, the one he walked by as a schoolboy and eyed with envy, or at least ambition. Shakespeare led an orbital life, everything returned to where it began. He even had the dramatic good sense to die on his birthday.

One of the appealing dynamics of the Shakespeare myth is the contrast of his humble beginnings and his lofty achievements, persuading us that genius might blossom anywhere. William Shakespeare: A Brief Life honours these myths, but also explores some of the mysteries: why Shakespeare left Stratford, who he ran with in London, why he put down his pen and at last came home again. Ultimately, the book explores the compelling contrast between the mere fifty two years Shakespeare lived, with the prolonged after lives of his work and his story, which show no sign of ending.

Paperback 280 pages

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