From Publishers Weekly
Considering the hundreds of thousands of words that have been written about Shakespeare, relatively little is known about the man himself. In the absence of much documentation about his life, we have the plays and poetry he wrote. In this addition to the Eminent Lives series, bestselling author Bryson (The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
) does what he does best: marshaling the usual little facts that others might overlook—for example, that in Shakespeare's day perhaps 40% of women were pregnant when they got married—to paint a portrait of the world in which the Bard lived and prospered. Bryson's curiosity serves him well, as he delves into subjects as diverse as the reliability of the extant images of Shakespeare, a brief history of the theater in England and the continuing debates about whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon really wrote Shakespeare's works. Bryson is a pleasant and funny guide to a subject at once overexposed and elusive—as Bryson puts it, he is a kind of literary equivalent of an electron—forever there and not there. (Nov.)
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'This season's best-selling volume.' Independent 'A brilliantly funny and gently insightful travel guide to 16th century England. Bryson is great at picking out of the morass of Elizabethan fact the small details that illuminate and amuse!he also uncovers from the world that surrounded the theatre some fascinating examples of Elizabethan eccentricity!As an abbreviated tour around the world of Shakespeare, this could hardly be bettered.' Sunday Times 'Bill Bryson has always been able to spot a market; and there ought to be a market for his latest book!an accessible, sensible Life of Shakespeare!surely a fine gift for someone encountering Shakespeare for the first time!Bryson is shrewd!and as funny as you'd expect!he sets down all the important bits of evidence, and assesses them in a measured scholarly way. He's good value too.' Daily Telegraph 'Measured, sensible and, at times, as wryly humorous as you'd expect.' The Times 'Information and wit in spades!this book is a fine addition to the canon of biographies.' Waterstones Books Quarterly 'Faced paced jaunt through Bardolatry!wittily evokes Elizabethan England.' Sunday Times 'A work worthy of one of the greatest writers in the English language.' Daily Express 'Bryson uses an inimitably light touch and squeezes a vast subject down to manageable proportions!he is a warm and funny guide through the whole complicated morass of Shakespearean scholarship.' Financial Times 'Bill Bryson offers us a brisk summary of all the things we'd like to know, but don't!enough to be absorbed in an entertaining evening.' Daily Mail 'Bill Bryson's short biography of Shakespeare is a delight!fresh, concise and!sharply illuminting!Bryson is brilliant at picking out just a few telltale details to paint a bigger picture!a gem of a book, likely to be useful to both beginners and to seasoned Shakespeareans alike.' Mail on Sunday Praise for 'A Short History of Nearly Everything': 'A modern classic.' The New York Times 'It represents a wonderful education, and all schools would be better places if it were the core science reader on the curriculum.' Times Literary Supplement Praise for 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid': 'Outlandishly and improbably entertaining!inevitably [I] would be reduced to body-racking, tear-inducing, de-couching laughter.' New York Times 'Always witty and sometimes hilarious!wonderfully funny and touching.' Literary Review