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The Shakespeare Circle
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Book description

This original and enlightening book casts fresh light on Shakespeare by examining the lives of his relatives, friends, fellow-actors, collaborators and patrons both in their own right and in relation to his life. Well-known figures such as Richard Burbage, Ben Jonson and Thomas Middleton are freshly considered; little-known but relevant lives are brought to the fore, and revisionist views are expressed on such matters as Shakespeare's wealth, his family and personal relationships, and his social status. Written by a distinguished team, including some of the foremost biographers, writers and Shakespeare scholars of today, this enthralling volume forms an original contribution to Shakespearian biography and Elizabethan and Jacobean social history. It will interest anyone looking to learn something new about the dramatist and the times in which he lived. A supplementary website offers imagined first-person audio accounts from the featured subjects.


‘Wonderfully conceived and executed, and drawing on the expertise of some of the finest literary historians at work today, The Shakespeare Circle offers a richly rewarding alternative to the ‘cradle to grave' biography, allowing us to see Shakespeare afresh through the lives of his friends, relatives, neighbours, fellow actors and rivals.'

James Shapiro - Columbia University, New York

‘Anyone who reads these collected biographical essays and sketches will come to know Shakespeare himself better.'

Dame Margaret Drabble - from the Afterword

'Full of fresh and fascinating detail, The Shakespeare Circle zooms out for the long view, linking the life of the playwright to the many different lives that surrounded him. A completely new way of understanding Shakespearian biography.'

Andrew Dickson - author of Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys Around Shakespeare's Globe

'Stanley Wells [is the] doyen of Shakespeare studies … As the novelist Margaret Drabble observes in her afterword, we should not be surprised that Shakespeare's life still yields surprises - but invariably we are.'

Jerry Bruton Source: Financial Times

‘… a remarkable collection …’

Charles Nicholl Source: London Review of Books

'For readers in search of Shakespeare, this collection holds out the promise of discovery, anticipating more evidence of collaboration, heralding fresh findings which may be gleaned from the ongoing archeologic dig at New Place, and issuing a call for scholars to pursue Shakespeare's missing papers, which might be discovered in the possession of descendants of the Barnard family. Its essays are distinguished by their thought-provoking research and fertile re-examination of the documentary record, creating intersections that generate fresh perspectives and invite the reader to imagine new narratives.'

Source: The Shakespeare Newsletter

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