Book - 2003
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Baker & Taylor
A profile of Shakespeare and the political, intellectual, and religious world in which he lived draws on recently discovered sources including police torture records to show how the violence and plots of the era inform his work.

Perseus Publishing
A brilliant piece of historical investigative journalism, Shakespeare is a fresh telling of the playwright's life based on a wide range of newly discovered sources, such as police and torture records. Rather than approaching Shakespeare as an isolated genius, Wood argues that he was very much a product of his place and time--a period of upheaval that straddled the medieval and modern worlds. It was a time of great tensions, marked by murderous plots and purges of the Elizabethan police state, from the Somerville Plot and the Essex rebellion to the Gunpowder Plot, which can now be shown to have touched Shakespeare and his family directly. If we wonder why Shakespeare was so obsessed with violence, and especially the violence of the state, there is an answer: This was Shakespeare's world.Furthermore, Wood reveals new and surprising evidence about: Shakespeare's Catholic faith, his work, and his attitudes on sex and on race. In doing so he reinstates the image of Shakespeare as a thinking artist, his work based firmly in the religion, politics, culture and class antagonisms of his day. Shakespeare plunges us headlong into the turbulent life and times of William Shakespeare. Presented in a beautifully designed package, with over 100 four-color and black-and-white illustrations, the result is a more convincing and complete portrait of the artist than was previously thought possible.

The greatest writer of the English language as he lived and breathed--a compelling portrait of William Shakespeare and his world, vividly rendered by author and television presenter Michael Wood

Blackwell North Amer
Drawing on an extensive range of sources, Michael Wood takes us back into Elizabethan England to reveal a man who was very much a product of his time. Marked by murderous plots and state terror, religious divisions and rebellious movements, the Spanish Armada and the colonization of the Americas, Shakespeare's dramatic world is here conjured like never before. Using a wealth of unexplored archive evidence - including nineteenth-century photographs of Tudor buildings that survived London's Great Fire - the author dramatically conjures up the neighborhoods where Shakespeare lived and worked during his glittering career. We enter the lodgings where he wrote his greatest plays, and meet the real-life characters who inspired him: doctors, landladies, musicians, foreigners and members of London's black population. We learn of his family's Catholic roots, light is shed on his father's changing fortunes, and new evidence for the dating of the sonnets reveals anguished reactions to the death of his only son.
Stocked with fresh insights and discoveries, this compelling work of investigative journalism reinstates the image of William Shakespeare as a thinking artist, a man who held up a mirror to his age, but who was also, as his friend Ben Jonson said, "not of an age, but for all time."

& Taylor

A vivid profile of William Shakespeare and the political, intellectual, and social world in which he lived draws on recently discovered new sources, including police and torture records, to show how the violence, intrigues, purges, and plots of the Elizabethan era informed Shakespeare's work, in a companion volume to a four-part PBS documentary. TV tie-in. 75,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, 2003
ISBN: 9780465092642
Branch Call Number: 822.33 BW
Characteristics: 352 p. : ill. (some col.), maps ; 24 cm


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Dec 09, 2009

The TV series, for which this book was written to accompany, is simply one of the most beautiful documentary series I've seen on television: lovely visuals, enjoyable excerpts by able actors. I was drawn to it, not only by my love of Shakespeare, but by my interest in family history research which is essentially what Michael Wood is undertaking here -- except he actually gets to handle documents!
The book is an interesting read, and fills in the details that the television show must skip over. I suppose it would be an interesting read on its own, but it's chiefly due to the documentary that I read it myself.


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