A friend recently asked me if I could recommend any “good and accessible” books about Shakespeare as he was interested in learning more on the subject. Shortly thereafter one of my colleagues mentioned that such a topic might make a nice blog post for those in search of holiday gifts for the Shakespeare fan in their life, and thus this post was born.
Just to provide a little of my own background on this subject area: Prior to earning my library-science degree, I completed my M.A. in English at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute in Stratford upon Avon. This by no means makes me an expert; in fact, the further I go in my education the more I realize there is to be learned. That said, I have had a fair bit of experience with the subject matter, and so with your indulgence I will offer up some of my personal favorites.
These recommendations, books I have read and enjoyed, I believe will delight the Shakespeare aficionado in your life.
Shakespeare: The World Stage, by Bill Bryson
With probably one of the most accessible books on the topic, Bryson is a prolific writer whose work I have always enjoyed.
Covering the year in which the Globe Theatre was erected and Hamlet was written, this book by Shapiro is both well-researched and engaging.
Also by Shapiro this book is an absorbing read for anyone interested in the authorship question.
Taking a look at his life and legacy, this is a lovely book by one of the foremost Shakespeare scholars in the world.
Is It True What They Say About Shakespeare? By Stanley Wells
The Rough Guide to Shakespeare, by Andrew Dickson
Containing synopses, scene breakdowns, reviews and criticism of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, this is a great resource for any fan of the bard.
Shakespeare & Text, by John Jowett
If you or someone you know is interested in how books were printed and sold in Shakespeare’s day, and you’re up for a slightly more challenging read, this is a great book.
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