Park Honan uses a wealth of fresh information to dramatically alter our perceptions of Shakespeare the actor, poet, and playwright.
The young poet's relationships, his early courtship of Anne Hathaway, their marriage, his attitudes to women such as Jennet Davenant, Marie Mountjoy, and his own daughters, are seen in a new light, illuminating Shakespeare's needs, habits, passions and concerns.
Shakespeare: A Life casts new light on the complexity and fascination of Shakespeare's life and his extraordinary development as an artist.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 496 pages, 16 pp black and white plates
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- Publication Date: 16/03/2000
- Category: Biography: general
- ISBN: 9780192825278
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Review by jcbrunner
Park Honan’s Shakespeare biography is filled with wonderful details as long as he is not speaking about the bard himself. Shakespeare’s family background and what happened after his death are extensively presented. As far as Shakespeare’s life is concerned, Honan often fills the large gaps with discussions about Shakespeare’s works, which while worthwhile isn’t actually the purpose of a proper biography. The main victim of this approach is Anne Hathaway. Shakespeare’s wife hardly appears in the narrative at all. Was it really a marriage à distance? Another aspect I want to learn more about is the risk of Shakespeare’s work not finally appearing in print. Was there really a chance of them not being preserved for posteriority? Overall, a good introduction with a big hole in the middle that is papered over by the discussion of Shakespeare’s works. The man behind them remains an enigma.