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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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... of local amateur dramatic societies as representative characters from each of Shakespeare’s plays. This is Stratford-upon-Avon on the weekend after 23 April, a day celebrated since the 18th century as Shakespeare’s Birthday. As Park Honan’s impressive new biography reminds ...

Lumpy, Semi-Dorky, Slouchy, Smarmy

John Lanchester, 23 August 2001

Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous 
by Don Foster.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 333 78170 8
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... who inspired Thomas Harris to invent the character Jack Crawford in the Hannibal Lecter novels, so he should know. This is the psychological portrait Brussel came up with of the Mad Bomber: He’s symmetrically built … neither fat nor skinny … a co-operative worker … punctual and neatly dressed … a virgin ...

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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... As I was reading Stephen Greenblatt’s biography of Shakespeare on the train there was a woman sitting near me doing a deal on the phone. She was getting agitated. ‘But I have to transfer the money to Mr Shakespeare himself,’ she said. ‘No … Listen, I really need to speak to Mr Shakespeare. Can you put me through? Hello? … Hello?’ Then the line went dead ...

Shakespeares

David Norbrook, 18 July 1985

Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism 
edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield.
Manchester, 244 pp., £19.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1752 1
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Alternative Shakespeares 
edited by John Drakakis.
Methuen, 252 pp., £10.50, July 1985, 0 416 36850 6
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Shakespeare and Others 
by S. Schoenbaum.
Scolar, 285 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 85967 691 9
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Illustrations of the English Stage 1580-1642 
by R.A. Foakes.
Scolar, 180 pp., £35, February 1985, 0 85967 684 6
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1743 2
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... Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is part of an Englishman’s constitution.’ Henry Crawford’s comment in Mansfield Park is a reminder that ‘Shakespeare’ is more than an individual writer: ‘it’ is an institution, a body of texts whose study, from O-level to the highest reaches of academia, is a means of legitimating social advancement and whose production on the stage and on television makes a powerful contribution to Britain’s invisible exports ...

Dwarf-Basher

Michael Dobson, 8 June 1995

Edmond Malone, Shakespearean Scholar: A Literary Biography 
by Peter Martin.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 521 46030 1
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... parish and corporation records of Stratford for the surviving documentary traces of Shakespeare’s family, and in the process found the only extant item of his personal correspondence, a letter to him from his neighbour Richard Quiney; Malone who found what remains the only known copy of the 1594 first quarto of Venus and Adonis (and later bequeathed ...

Bardicide

Gary Taylor, 9 January 1992

... of bardicide. You might object that he inherited these oppositions from history. But of Plutarch’s two accounts of ‘the murder of Cinna’, only one even mentions, in passing, that the victim was ‘a poet’. Given a choice, Shakespeare chose to make Cinna a poet. He also chose to dramatise this superfluous episode. In inserting this scene and insisting ...

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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... The subtitle of James Shapiro’s engaging new book is a tease. Shapiro, the author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2005), is in no doubt that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon is the author of the works published in his name: not Sir Francis Bacon, or Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, or Christopher Marlowe, living on in secret after his apparent death in a brawl in 1593 (before most of Shakespeare’s works were written), or one of the more than 50 alternative candidates who have been proposed since the mid-19th century ...

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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... speculatively ‘onomastic’ paragraph, in which he fools around with the names of Shakespeare’s children, with the words: ‘The whole of this paragraph is very unsound.’ Here is an example of candour rarely matched by Shakespeare’s biographers. Any biography of Shakespeare has to mix conjecture with established ...

Brave as hell

John Kerrigan, 21 June 1984

Enderby’s Dark Lady, or No End to Enderby 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 160 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 156050 0
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Edition 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Macmillan, 311 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 36386 8
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... In 1964, the quatercentenary of Shakespeare’s birth, two very different books appeared. Anthony Burgess’s tribute to the poet, Nothing Like the Sun, was a boisterous biographical novel full of sugared sack and bawdry, with sombre undertones of decay. Taking literally the references in Shakespeare’s sonnets to a mistress ‘black as hell’, Burgess made the Dark Lady of his story a voluptuous East Indian who, after seducing the dramatist, inspired the tragic plays of his maturity by giving him a dose of syphilis ...

Manufactured Humbug

Frank Kermode: A great forger of the nineteenth century, 16 December 2004

John Payne Collier: Scholarship and Forgery in the 19th Century 
by Arthur Freeman and Janet Ing Freeman.
Yale, 1483 pp., £100, August 2004, 0 300 09661 5
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... insults, though mostly in gentlemanly prose. For learned disputes had gentlemanly antecedents, and so had learned fabrications; even Thomas Warton was guilty, and he was the author of the standard History of English Poetry, a work some Shakespeare hunters saw as a model for their much desired history of English drama. The deceits practised by the 19th-century ...

Bereft and Beruffed

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s Last Plays, 6 June 2019

Shakespeare’s Lyric Stage: Myth, Music and Poetry in the Last Plays 
by Seth Lerer.
Chicago, 276 pp., £20.50, November 2018, 978 0 226 58254 2
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... romances’? The very terms by which scholars habitually refer to Pericles, The Winter’s Tale, Cymbeline, The Tempest, All Is True (Henry VIII) and The Two Noble Kinsmen, all composed between about 1607 and 1613 – between Shakespeare’s 43rd year and his 49th – compound the issue of genre with questions of ...

Mrs Shakespeare

Barbara Everett, 18 December 1986

William Shakespeare: The Sonnets and ‘A Lover’s Complaint’ 
edited by John Kerrigan.
Viking, 458 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 670 81466 0
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... credible or interesting survived the poet: but one can be found in an additional note to Aubrey’s Brief Lives, which recalls him as ‘the more to be admired q[uia] he was not a company keeper, lived in Shoreditch, wouldn’t be debauched, and if invited to, writ: he was in pain.’ This sounds true in more than one way; perhaps Shakespeare did suffer from ...

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