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A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This book is hard to categorize, but so lovely and fun for the literary/history nerd. We’ll never know much about Shakespeare’s life, so Shapiro instead focuses on the events we know occurred during one of his most prolific years. Showing how those events likely influenced the content of Shakespeare’s plays opens up a whole new way of thinking about art and history.

— Jocelyn


What accounts for Shakespeare’s transformation from talented poet and playwright to one of the greatest writers who ever lived? In this gripping account, James Shapiro sets out to answer this question, "succeed[ing] where others have fallen short." (Boston Globe)

1599 was an epochal year for Shakespeare and England. During that year, Shakespeare wrote four of his most famous plays: Henry the Fifth, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and, most remarkably, Hamlet; Elizabethans sent off an army to crush an Irish rebellion, weathered an Armada threat from Spain, gambled on a fledgling East India Company, and waited to see who would succeed their aging and childless queen.

James Shapiro illuminates both Shakespeare’s staggering achievement and what Elizabethans experienced in the course of 1599, bringing together the news and the intrigue of the times with a wonderful evocation of how Shakespeare worked as an actor, businessman, and playwright. The result is an exceptionally immediate and gripping account of an inspiring moment in history.

Praise For…

“Very distinguished...captivating...Shapiro succeeds where others have fallen short.”

“Only an extraordinary scholar could illuminate Shakespeare’s singular genius by demonstrating how much his work owes to Elizabethan cultureandsociety.”

“James Shapiro throws an unusually searching light across Shakespeare’s creative genius and makes him come truly alive.”

“Superb—the product of marathon scholarship, inspired insight, narrative flair, astute surmise and searching intelligence.”

“an unforgettable illumination of a crucial moment in the life of our greatest writer.”

“[This] is one of the few genuinely original biographies of Shakespeare.”

“a brilliantly readable and revealing narrative.”

“For Irish readers...by far the best account yet written of the relationship between this island and Shakespeare’s work.”

“If Will in the World is essentially an extremely good historical novel, [YLOWS] is history itself”

“Excellent book....superbly illuminating....Shapiro deserves whoops of applause.”

“Shapiro gives us a Shakespeare who chronicles his age, in a biographical form that speaks clearly to our own.”

“Quite brilliant….It gives a whole large picture of his life, times, and achievement. Wonderful.”

“As a yarn, this is up there with The Da Vinci Code but in 1599 it’s all true!”

“Mr. Shapiro has given us by his encyclopedic scholarship and lucid narrative a hitherto unknown Shakespeare.”

“[P]assionately written study, the product of deep scholarship and acute critical thought... fascinating.”

“a stunning exhibition of scholarly intelligence by an academic deeply committed to arriving at the truth.”

“deliciously vivid....Shapiro weaves a tantalising narrative.”

“Shapiro’s scrupulous scholarship has given us a Shakespeare both for his time and our own.”

“An intriguing addition to Shakespeare studies...open-minded readers will be stimulated and enriched by Shapiro’s contextual approach.”

“This book is a masterpiece, simply a masterpiece.”

Product Details
ISBN: 9780060088743
ISBN-10: 0060088745
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: June 1st, 2006
Pages: 432
Language: English
Series: P.S.


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