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William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself.
Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, from today's most respected academics to eccentrics like Delia Bacon, an American who developed a firm but unsubstantiated conviction that her namesake, Francis Bacon, was the true author of Shakespeare's plays. Emulating the style of his famous travelogues, Bryson records episodes in his research, including a visit to a bunkerlike room in Washington, D.C., where the world's largest collection of First Folios is housed.
Bryson celebrates Shakespeare as a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness, a coiner of phrases ("vanish into thin air," "foregone conclusion," "one fell swoop") that even today have common currency. His Shakespeare is like no one else's—the beneficiary of Bryson's genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivaled in our time.
Bill Bryson's Shakespeare pairs one of history's most celebrated writers with one of the most popular writers in the English language today. In this elegant, updated, illustrated edition, the superstitions, academic discoveries and myths surrounding the life of one of the world's greatest poets are evoked through a series of full-color paintings, drawings, portraits, documents and photographs. Bryson also discusses the recent discoveries of the Cobbe portrait and the remains of Shakespeare's first theatre in Shoreditch.
The centuries of mysteries, half-truths and downright lies about Shakespeare are deftly explored, as Bryson draws a picture that includes many aspects of the poet's life, making sense of the man behind the masterpieces. In a journey down the streets of Shakespeare's time, Bryson brings to life the hubbub of Elizabethan England and delights in details of his folios and quartos, poetry and plays. He celebrates the glory of Shakespeare's language and his ceaseless inventiveness, which gave us hundreds of now indispensable phrases, images and words.
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