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A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 Paperback – June 13, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 268 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“Very distinguished...captivating...Shapiro succeeds where others have fallen short.” — William E. Cain, Boston Globe

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

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

“Superb―the product of marathon scholarship, inspired insight, narrative flair, astute surmise and searching intelligence.” — Peter Kemp, Sunday Times (London)

“an unforgettable illumination of a crucial moment in the life of our greatest writer.” — Robert McCrum, The Observer

“[This] is one of the few genuinely original biographies of Shakespeare.” — Jonathan Bate, Sunday Telegraph

“a brilliantly readable and revealing narrative.” — Nicholas Hytner, The Guardian

“For Irish far the best account yet written of the relationship between this island and Shakespeare’s work.” — Fintan O'Toole, Irish Times

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

“Excellent book....superbly illuminating....Shapiro deserves whoops of applause.” — Sam Leith, The Spectator

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

“Quite brilliant….It gives a whole large picture of his life, times, and achievement. Wonderful.” — Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate (England)

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

“Mr. Shapiro has given us by his encyclopedic scholarship and lucid narrative a hitherto unknown Shakespeare.” — Jacques Barzun, author of From Dawn to Decadence

“[P]assionately written study, the product of deep scholarship and acute critical thought... fascinating.” — Stanley Wells, Editor of The Oxford Shakespeare

“a stunning exhibition of scholarly intelligence by an academic deeply committed to arriving at the truth.” — Christopher Rush, Sunday Herald, Halifax

“deliciously vivid....Shapiro weaves a tantalising narrative.” — David Lister, The Independent

“Shapiro’s scrupulous scholarship has given us a Shakespeare both for his time and our own.” — David Scott Kastan, General Editor, The Arden Shakespeare

“An intriguing addition to Shakespeare readers will be stimulated and enriched by Shapiro’s contextual approach.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This book is a masterpiece, simply a masterpiece.” — Booklist (starred review)

From the Inside Flap

1599 was an epochal year for Shakespeare and England

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.

--William E. Cain, Boston Globe

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 13, 2006)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 432 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0060088745
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0060088743
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 0.97 x 5.31 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 268 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
268 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 14, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 14, 2016
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Top reviews from other countries

Mr. S. J. Dermody
5.0 out of 5 stars A book full of details and dates voices that is so interesting
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on January 28, 2020
William C. Mahaney
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant link of history and literature
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on March 28, 2021
One person found this helpful
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marsha l. reid
4.0 out of 5 stars If you are a fan of Shakespeare you will love this book
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on March 15, 2016
One person found this helpful
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Gayle Gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and scholarly
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on August 27, 2014
R. Ilomaki
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy customer 👍
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on February 12, 2022