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Rosemary Hill: Shakespeare’s Faces

7 January 2016
... it may be asserted that more has been written and published on the life … of Shakspere, than during the whole of the preceding period between the acting of his first drama and the year 1800.’ KatherineDuncan-Jones, in her brilliant, scholarly and concise Portraits of Shakespeare (Bodleian, £14.99), deals with two of the images ‘taken from life’ that duly emerged. One, known as the Flower ...


Katherine Duncan-Jones: Nocturnal Plastifications

12 November 1998
... At the end of August 1996 both my daughters left home to take up graduate scholarships in America. I knew that they would probably never again spend extended periods in my house, but persuaded myself that I had ‘coping strategies’ well in place. Within days of their departure I embarked on a more than usually expensive holiday, a Hellenic cruise. I had calculated that in the course of this holiday ...
25 June 1992
Sir Philip Sidney: Courtier Poet 
by Katherine Duncan-Jones.
Hamish Hamilton, 350 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 241 12650 9
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Algernon Sidney and the Restoration Crisis 
by Jonathan Scott.
Cambridge, 406 pp., £40, October 1991, 0 521 35291 6
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Algernon Sidney and the Republican Heritage 
by Alan Craig Houston.
Princeton, 335 pp., £22.50, November 1991, 0 691 07860 2
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Milton’s ‘History of Britain’: Republican Historiography in the English Revolution 
by Nicholas von Maltzahn.
Oxford, 244 pp., £32.50, November 1991, 0 19 812897 5
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... The current has been obscured by mythology. Legends have spread luxuriantly around the family’s history, and particularly around those failed politicians, Philip and Algernon. The biographies by KatherineDuncan-Jones and Jonathan Scott are explicitly concerned to get behind the legends. Philip has been mythologised as the model Renaissance and Protestant courtier, whose courage and heroism led to a ...

In the Workshop

Tom Paulin: Shakespeare’s Sonnets

22 January 1998
The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 672 pp., £23.50, December 1997, 0 674 63712 7
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Shakespeare's Sonnets 
edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones.
Arden, 503 pp., £7.99, September 1997, 1 903436 57 5
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... trim lawn where tea and cucumber sandwiches are being served. The Quarto text sounds like Stephen Rea, the modernised one like Gielgud or Prince Charles. The same or very similar modernised texts in KatherineDuncan-Jones’s scholarly and accessible new edition seem perfectly presentable on their own, but in Vendler are often destabilised by their immediate adjacency to the Quarto texts. Duncan-Jones ...

Best Known for His Guzzleosity

Helen Hackett: Shakespeare’s Authors

11 March 2010
Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 367 pp., £20, April 2010, 978 0 571 23576 6
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... Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (2004) in the LRB, he deplored ‘the heuristic poverty of biographical explanations of works of art’.* Others, however, including KatherineDuncan-Jones in her Arden edition of the Sonnets (1997, shortly to be reissued in a revised edition) and René Weis, in Shakespeare Revealed (2007), have continued to deal in biography: Duncan-Jones ...

Pillors of Fier

Frank Kermode: Anthony Burgess

11 July 2002
Nothing like the Sun: reissue 
by Anthony Burgess.
Allison and Busby, 234 pp., £7.99, January 2002, 0 7490 0512 2
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... him a venereal disease. Much divergent interpretation has been devoted to this line, but there seems to be pretty general agreement about the infection idea. Shakespeare’s most recent biographer, KatherineDuncan-Jones, who incidentally thinks the young friend was William Herbert, not Southampton, has a good learned note in her edition about contemporary accounts of men getting burned by the female ...

Father-Daughter Problems

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s Bad Daughters

8 May 2008
The Lodger: Shakespeare in Silver Street 
by Charles Nicholl.
Allen Lane, 378 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 7139 9890 0
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... Well (1604?); while Anglo-French relations dominate Henry VI Part 1 (c.1592), King John (1596) and Henry V (1599). The last of these demonstrates, furthermore, particularly in the scene of Princess Katherine’s English lesson, III.iv, that Shakespeare had a reasonable grasp of French. Just as important for the story Nicholl tells in The Lodger, it also demonstrates that Shakespeare had a reasonable ...

Who wouldn’t buy it?

Colin Burrow: Speculating about Shakespeare

20 January 2005
Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Cape, 430 pp., £20, October 2004, 9780224062763
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... Shakespeare as not at all lovable, and have increasingly reintroduced what Chambers would drily have termed ‘speculation’ in order to offset the desiccating effect of the documentary record. KatherineDuncan-Jones describes a bit of a shark in Ungentle Shakespeare (2001), and is very good at extracting plausible matter even from Aubrey’s anecdotes. She also adds lively and often credible dashes ...

Lord Have Mercy

James Shapiro: Plague Writing

31 March 2011
Plague Writing in Early Modern England 
by Ernest Gilman.
Chicago, 295 pp., £24, June 2009, 978 0 226 29409 4
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... as Leeds Barroll showed in his groundbreaking Politics, Plague and Shakespeare’s Theatre) that from 1603 to 1610 public playhouses were probably closed two-thirds of the time. Biographers, notably KatherineDuncan-Jones and Jonathan Bate, have struggled to determine the impact plague had on Shakespeare’s life and work. Did Shakespeare flee London during extended outbreaks, and so spend much of the ...

My Dagger into Yow

Ian Donaldson: Sidney’s Letters

25 April 2013
The Correspondence of Sir Philip Sidney 
edited by Roger Kuin.
Oxford, 1381 pp., £250, July 2012, 978 0 19 955822 3
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... glancingly concede, and what they fail altogether to tell us about Sidney’s character. Among the most obvious gaps in this plump epistolary corpus are letters to or from women, in whose company, as KatherineDuncan-Jones has convincingly argued, Sidney seems always to have been most happy, productive and at ease. There are no surviving exchanges with his wife, Frances, or with his sister, Mary, and no ...

Hoarder of Malt

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare

7 January 1999
Shakespeare: A Life 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 479 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 19 811792 2
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £11.99, December 1998, 0 7190 5425 7
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... he invested in his houses in Stratford and London and all that land), so there is more work to be done with a calculator and on Elizabethan theatrical financing by the rival biographers, notably KatherineDuncan-Jones, who are already hard on Honan’s heels. But in the meantime Park Honan has produced a highly readable book which is more reliable about more aspects of Shakespeare’s life and career ...
10 July 2003
... recent commentators, Stephen Greenblatt among them, state that the play was ‘almost certainly’ Shakespeare’s. Others are more confident still. Shakespeare’s recent biographers Park Honan and KatherineDuncan-Jones take it for granted that the play was his. Andrew Gurr, in editing Richard II, ‘assumes’ that it was, and the same assumption is made by the editors of the Oxford Complete Works of ...

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