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My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakespeare's Tale Paperback – August 3, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An ordinary girl seeks revenge on her celebrated father in Tiffany's debut, a fictionalized "memoir" by the Bard's youngest daughter, Judith. From earliest childhood, Judith and twin brother Hamnet are in awe of their "da," "the scribbling one," whose rare visits to their Stratford home bring tales of London playhouses and fairy queens. When Hamnet accidentally drowns during a game Judith proposes, she is guilt stricken; when she finds her grief used as material for Twelfth Night, she blames her absentee father. "Why should I not steal to London and shame him?" she asks rhetorically. Now a big, gawky 14-year-old, she arrives in London disguised as "Castor Popworthy," determined to sabotage the play's opening night. But as Judith infiltrates her father's state-of-the-art Globe Theater, she's swept up by the joys of playacting, hobnobbing with such legendary thespians as Richard Burbage, Will Kemp and the dangerously attractive Nathan Field, who demands her "maidenhead" to safeguard her secret . These London scenes, though wildly implausible, provide a brisk and vivid introduction to Elizabethan theater. But when "da" finally figures out that his new Viola is none other than his daughter and grimly ships her back to Stratford, Tiffany has nowhere to go with Judith's character. Unlike the tragic, talented "Judith Shakespeare" Virginia Woolf imagined so memorably in A Room of One's Own, Tiffany's character merely ages, mired in adolescent angst and gender confusion.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-A beguiling, rollicking, witty, heartening tale, penned as if a memoir by Will's daughter. Judith's recollections are as plump as her straw-stuffed mattress but in no way sedate. They begin when she is a toddler awakening to the concept that the man who occasionally visits the family's country home is her father. He fuels Judith and her twin brother with imaginative stories during rare spurts when he is not compulsively capturing scenes on parchment. Judith is a storyteller, too. She weaves magical plots for her brother's amusement, but her drama takes a tragic turn when the boy is lost to the currents of the Avon. Her passion for make-believe appears forever doused, replaced by mourning and guilt. But there is a resurgence of her theatrical self when she thinks her father has used the family's grief as fodder for a play. She rails. She leaves Stratford and disguises herself as a boy to gain acceptance into the troop of actors who will inaugurate the Globe with her father's Twelfth Night, a performance she intends to spoil. The saucy dialogue and crisp narrative befit the action-packed maturation of the entire Shakespeare clan. For fans of the Bard, period pieces, the English dominion, or family dynamics, this book has wide appeal, and female readers will appreciate Judith's turn from impetuous teen into a tamer but still-liberated, passionate adult.
Karen Sokol, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (August 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425196380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425196380
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,302,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Grace Tiffany is a Shakespeare scholar who writes smart, entertaining fiction. Her newest novel, GUNPOWDER PERCY (Bagwyn, 2016) is based on the real story of the doomed Catholic zealots who plotted to blow up the English House of Lords in 1605. Her prior novel PAINT (Bagwyn, 2013), is based on the life of Emilia Lanier, a scandalous seventeenth-century poet thought by some to have been the mysterious Dark Lady of Shakespeare's sonnets. PAINT is the third of a network of novels in which Tiffany explores Shakespeare's fraught relations with women, both at home and in the busy London theater world. The first of this group, MY FATHER HAD A DAUGHTER, won Booksense 76 listing from the independent booksellers of America. Tiffany's sole novel for teenagers, ARIEL, appeared on the 2006 American Library Association list of best novels for young adults. She has also written two nonfiction books about English Renaissance culture. Visit her "Shakespeare in Fiction and Fact" blog at: http://www.shakespearefiction.blogspot.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I noticed that most of the criticism made by other readers involves the distortion of what we believe to be the facts about the family of William Shakespeare. Please remember this is fiction and that the point of the story wasn't to portray the actual events, but to explore the relationship between a daughter and her father using characters who are familiar but about which we really don't know many facts.

And what a job has been done here with not only exploring the relationship between William and Judith, but between the entire Shakespeare clan. Ms. Tiffany does a wonderful job creating an extremely complex character in Judith. She's haunted by the death of her twin brother; torn between love, hate and resentment of her father; drawn to a life that as a woman in the 1600s is impossible for her to live.

Ms. Tiffany also spends time exploring the relationship between Judith and her mother. It's quite clear that she worships her father and doesn't really think much of her mother in the beginning, but as the book develops and time passes we see that the relationship between Judith and her mother improves as she matures and begins to realize some of the dynamics that exist between her mother and father.

But the main charm is watching the relationship between William and Judith. We see her rather normal hero worship of her father as a child, followed by the inevitable disillusionment toward her father when she discovers that he is using the family tragedies as a source of material for his plays. When she sets out for London to embarrass him she ends up with a greater understanding of her father's existence and what drives him which leads to forgiveness.

I'll be getting a copy of Will (Ms. Tiffany's story about William) soon.
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Format: Hardcover
I was near the end of the book but was unable to finish that evening, so I GOT UP EARLY to finish reading it before leaving for work! It's got to be darn good to get me up early. This is a beautifully written tale with the wonderful quality of being spare and full at the same time. It has a "I can't wait to find out what happens" pace like an adventure story, but the adventure is Judith's life as she discovers her passion as an actor, woman, friend, and, finally, a daughter. Her personality is distinctly revealed. Judith is whole, complex, believable, as well as highly likeable, and her life and this book do not follow the beaten path.
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Format: Hardcover
If you liked the movie "Shakespeare in Love," chances are you will be delighted by more than one element of this book. For the hopeless romantics there is a hopeless romance, for the theater-obsessed there is copious good writing concerning the draw of the stage, and for Shakespeare buffs plenty of the Bard's work is woven into the plot as Ms. Tiffany's story grapples, if often superficially, with the bulk of his poetic motivation. As is so often true where he is cited, Shakespeare tends to dominate the book, and his enigma at times seems to eclipse even Tiffany's interest in her protagonist (his youngest daughter). But where this could be a potential weakness, Tiffany finds a strength, and the book becomes at once the story of an unconventional life and a sort of metaphorical undressing of ever fan's relation to their idol. While Judith Shakespeare's story is quirky enough to hold the imagination, it is the more general themes that have a lasting attraction, especially since those drawn to this book are, more likely than not, familiar with the twin desires of appreciating the poet and becoming the poet. Tiffany allows us to watch as Judith mingles the boundaries of her identity with her father's, and what results is an understated but thought-provoking portrait of a daughter - not so much a daughter in the literal sense, although this is the stated purpose, but rather a metaphorical daughter, in the way that all young women who hunt for meaning and excitement in Shakespeare's verse are his daughters, and all young men who do so are his sons.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
From the first page, the vivid character of Judith Shakespeare comes alive. I couldn't put the book down. Tiffany is steeped in Shakespeare's idiom, and it shows. For Judith's narrative, she has fashioned a language that unfailingly projects a sense of the heroine's historical remoteness while it yet remains clear to the contemporary reader. This is no small feat! The Publisher's Weekly review above is wrong about the language: "post-play," employs a Latinate construction in common use in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (email me for examples), and I couldn't find the word "stylized" anywhere (I read the review before I read the book), leaving me to wonder whether the reviewer and I read the same book. (She also gave the story away, which is just plain irresponsible.) In any case, I found Judith Shakespeare's language a lyrical delight, the story engaging and no more implausible than most of Shakespeare's plays, and I loved the way Judith's character developed emotionally and spiritually. In fact, despite the market-conscious tone surrounding yet another "female-relative-of-a-famous-guy" book, I found the story and the character to be refreshingly non-PC. Anti-PC, even.
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