Thursday, 28 July 2011
Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
As a fan of both William Shakespeare and Bill Bryson I was really looking forward to reading this book which I found to be informative, interesting and well written.
Bryson sets a scene well and spends a fair amount of the book discussing what it was like living, working and dying in Shakespeare's day all of which helped build up a picture of the great playwright's life, even if the picture was blurry around the edges. I say this because we know shockingly little about Shakespeare's life for certain. In fact we can't even be sure what he looked like or even how best to spell his name! Bryson is perfectly honest and open about this from right at the beginning of the book. In fact many stories stated as fact in other books are often only legends with no evidence whatsoever to back them up. I think Bryson sucessfully debunked some absolute nonsense that has been written about the Bard for the last few hundred years especially the ridiculous theories that Shakespeare didn't write his own plays.
I didn't find the lack of evidence surrounding Shakespeare frustrating, quite the opposite. I don't think a bit of mystery does Shakespeare any harm, in fact if anything it enhances his appeal. Too often when you find out a little too much about a great man or woman you realise they were only human like everyone else and end up resenting them.
If you are interested in Shakespeare's life I cannot recommend reading this book highly enough. A brilliant effort from a man who is very talented in his own right.
Final verdict 4/5