Monday 23 August 2010

Shakespeare (The Illustrated Edition) - Bill Bryson

Shakespeare: The Illustrated Edition by Bill Bryson.

Synopsis: A brief biography of Shakespeare that tries to establish what we can really know about him for sure, rather than what we can just guess from reading too much into his plays.  This is a special edition, each page has illustrations and there's also a CD of Shakespeare's sonnets.

Score: 4/5

I mainly picked up this book because I love Bill Bryson, and will read anything he writes.  I also loved Shakespeare back when I was doing my English Literature A-Level but hadn't read much either by or about him since.  As always, I found Bryson really readable and the edition of the book was just beautiful.

I knew next to nothing of Shakespeare's life before I started reading (apart from the controversy over him maybe being gay) so there was new information in the book for me. To be honest, I found it more interesting reading all of the different theories crazy people had put forward about his life, based on one line of text from one of his plays.

The book was also a kind of travel-guide to Elizabethan England, and this bit was really well done.  One of the things I love most about Bill Bryson is that he always seems to realise what the most interesting parts of any topic are, and covers just these.  So the book was short, but easy to read and enjoyable.

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