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Shakespeare: The Evidence: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Man and His Work Paperback – January 15, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (January 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312200056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312200053
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #917,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wilson theorizes that glover John Shakespeare, the Bard's father, was a member of a Catholic underground movement, and that William, too, secretly harbored Catholic sympathies. The slender evidence cited for this hypothesis includes a spiritualized last will, presumably John's, discovered in 1757 but quickly lost, as well as the playwright's purchase in 1613 of Blackfriars Gatehouse, a clandestine Catholic gathering place. Wilson (Jesus: The Evidence) proposes Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Stranges, as the mystery patron behind Shakespeare's Henry VI/Richard II tetralogy. Will, in this scenario, would have observed political intrigue close-up at Stanley's court, thus explaining how a low-born actor rapidly became familiar with high style and the ways of the world. There is virtually no hard evidence to back up this theory. Nevertheless, through his own indefatigable sleuthing and his lucid synthesis of the research of previous scholars, Wilson has produced an intriguing, richly illustrated, surprisingly full-bodied biography, which plunges readers into Shakespeare's turbulent milieu and provides an autobiographical or historic context for most of his plays.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this biography, Wilson (The After Death Experience, Morrow, 1990) has marshaled all the known facts about Shakespeare, unearthed others about the people he knew and places he lived, and woven them all together into a convincing, readable account of the elusive man from Stratford-upon-Avon. Much of this book reads like a detective story, and although Wilson, like all Shakespeare biographers, does not have enough clues to solve every mystery, his willingness to investigate areas that others have overlooked pays rich dividends. His speculative explanation of how Shakespeare acquired his knowledge of aristocratic life and high-level political intrigue seems not improbable, even though the hard evidence for it is nil. Wilson also argues (against many eminent authorities) that Shakespeare had strong Roman Catholic sympathies. Wilson builds a strong case on some recurring coincidences in Shakespeare's life. For both general readers and scholars.
Bryan Aubrey, Fairfield., Ia.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Being a Shakespearean actor, I am very interested in consuming any information concerning the bard from critiques of the plays and sonnets to varied information about his life. Usually though its a chore to ponder through overblown scholarly disertaions on the works that totally ignore the dimension of the presentation and performance. Even more so with dull biographers who grapple with sparse facts on Shakespeare's life and who eventually draw a very incomplete view of the man. That all changed in reading this book! Ian Wilson paints the most complete portrait of the bard that I have ever read. Piecing together bits of direct and surrounding evidence, selections of the plays and political intriques of the time Wilson writes an exciting narrative that reads more like a screenplay then a dissertation. I found myself dieing to know what happend next as his life unfolded. Here Shakespeare appears as a true Human being and not the stuff of half baked legend and places emotion and motivation behind the writing of the plays. It describes in detail his dealings with the high members of the court of England, rising through the ranks of the theatrical world and gives a poignant glimpse into the man himself and dispels any allusion to the authorship question, especially from Edward De Vere. Given the success of "Shakespeare in Love", Hollywood should take this book and fashion a mini-series on his life. There is more than enough drama and mystery in these pages for three films. Definitely a great read for any scholar or Shakespearean actor that seek to relish the rich legacy that Will left to our culture.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 2, 1997
Format: Hardcover
It is indeed unfortunate that this book is not available. Keep trying! It is well worth it! Simply the best book on Shakespeare, The Man, I have ever read. Wilson's research is awesome and his feel for his subject is highly sensitive. Also, anyone who is curious about whether Shakespeare was a "secret" Catholic will find this book chock-full of information on that question.

-- David Nava
Associate Artistic Director
Shakespeare's Motley Crew
Chicago, IL
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Anderson on March 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is very well written account of what we know of Shakespeare's Life. Wilson makes a very persuasive case for Shakespeare as the author of the plays and sonnets. At times his reasoning becomes a little convoluted, but almost all books on subjects like this have some twistings in their reasoning. After reading this I would stand behind Shakespeare on the authorship debate, partly because there is no reason to believe that he did not write the plays. Jeff Anderson
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. Martin on January 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Books on Shakespeare roughly seem to fall into two categories: Standard scholarly books that downplay the man and focus on the plays and ingenious, entertianing books by frequently learned amateurs of anti-stratfordian theories of authorship. Anti-stratfordians have an advantage with the popular reading public; whereas academics are content to deal with texts as if they have no referents, laypeople necessarily have to ask (as William Paley said in his "natural theology) what kind of man wrote these plays. Anti-stratfordians are all too willing to oblige.
Furthermore the field is fairly well uncontested as practically all academics consider anti-stratfordian theories as beneath their contempt. This is a shame because generally they are entirely worthy of contempt. Ian Wilson is educated amateur, with the sort of background one associates with anti-stratfordians. He summarizes and interprets the available evidence and comes to some remarkable conclusions.
Best of all, his is not an "anti-anti-stratfordian rant" he concentrates on considering the "stratford man" not knocking other candidates. But the position of there being an "authorship problem" is made untenable. Particularly when read in conjuction with Matus' SHAKESPEARE IN FACT which addresses subsequent assessments of shakespeare (culminating in romantic "bardolatry") as well as a dissection of the claims for Oxford. This even though there are plenty of "arguably"'s, "almost certian"'s, "likely"'s that stud the text which the loyal opposition will make much of.
The one substantian objection is that Wilson argues for the likelihood of a position (for example the identity of the "dark lady") and then frequently treats it as establish fact. This is a chief vice of anti-strafordians A few more qualifiers would have enhanced the book's credibility.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Drew on July 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Shakespeare: the Evidence" is a wonderful resource for anyone who is intrigued by William Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era, but becomes bogged down by dense research doctrines, or frustrated by conclusions drawn from sketchy evidence.

And yet Ian Wilson presents a staggering amount of research (including phtographs of contemporary paintings, maps and sketches). But because the book is written gracefully, and the form and pressure of the time are depicted in fascinating detail, it is a delicious read.
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