Shakespeare : The Biography, Paperback

Shakespeare : The Biography Paperback

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Peter Ackroyd's marvellous biography is a living attempt to reach into the heart of Shakespeare.He creates an intimate and immediate connection with his subject, so that the book reads like the work of a contemporary - meeting Shakespeare afresh on his own ground.Written with intuition and imagination unique to Peter Ackroyd, this is a book by a writer about a writer, and a fascinating and detailed depiction of the world Shakespeare inhabited.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: literary
  • ISBN: 9780749386559



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My heart always sings when I pick up a Peter Ackroyd biography. I expect that I shall read an interesting account of the person, but one that does not push any particular bias. I have yet to be disappointed and, certainly, this biography of William Shakespeare never looked likely to buck the trend. Mr Ackroyd respects Shakespeare's position at the pinnacle of British writers without glossing over the deficiencies that any human must possess. The information concerning the life of Shakespeare is not sufficient to produce a definite story from the cradle to the grave so, Peter Ackroyd gives us what definite knowledge exists and adds the gossip and rumour that surrounds the man. What I particularly like, is that the fact and surmise are clearly separated. He sets out the basis for any unsubstantiated details, gives any supporting evidence and leaves the reader to decide how much credence to give to it. When one is writing about someone who lived in a very different age to our own, it is important that the historical background is set. This book does this in an admirable fashion; the reader is not lectured, but the detail is all there. One other point which is vital when discussing an earlier age, is to see it through the eyes of the moral standards of the time. Ackroyd, by standing aloft from his subject, reports, without any judgement. The greatest compliment that one can give to any biography is that it sends the reader scurrying to re-read the poems and re-watch the plays of William Shakespeare. I recently read a fictional biography of the Bard and, at the end, felt dis-satisfied and not drawn to re-engage with Mr Shakespeare's work: with this book, I was re-watching the plays before completing the book. Not only does this work bring the man to life, it adds a new facet to the plays and sonnets.I would imagine that this biography has enough detail to be worth the time for a Shakespeare expert to read,: without question,it is written in such a way that someone, such as myself, with only the most basic schoolboy awareness of the man and his works can read, enjoy and learn. Thank you, Mr. Ackroyd, for bringing William Shakespeare to life for one ignorant reader.

Review by

Lots of detail from not much data. Paints a plausible picture of the man & his plays & poetry.Read Mar 2007

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