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Publisher's Summary

In a magnificent feat of re-creating sixteenth-century London and Stratford, best-selling biographer and novelist Peter Ackroyd brings William Shakespeare to life in the manner of a contemporary rather than a biographer. Following his magisterial and ingenious re-creations of the lives of Chaucer, Dickens, T. S. Eliot, William Blake, and Sir Thomas More, Ackroyd delivers his crowning achievement with this definitive and imaginative biographical masterpiece. Thousands of books have been written about the playwright, but none has borne Ackroyd's unique and accessible stamp. His method is to position the playwright in the context of his world, exploring everything from Stratford's humble town to its fields of wildflowers; discerning influences on the plays from unexpected quarters; and entering London with the playwright as modern theatre, as we know it, is just beginning to emerge. Writing as though we are observing Shakespeare and his circle of friends, patrons, managers, and fellow actors and writers, Ackroyd is able to see Shakespeare's genius from within, so we feel that Ackroyd the writer merges with Shakespeare the writer, the poet, the man; and thus with great sympathy and clarity we experience the way in which Shakespeare worked. Shakespeare: The Biography is quite unlike other more analytic biographies that have been written. Rather, Peter Ackroyd has used his skill, his extraordinary knowledge, and his historical intuition to craft this major full-scale book on one of the most towering figures of the English language.
©2005 Peter Ackroyd; (P)2005 Random House, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Ackroyd's biography cumulatively gives one a feeling that one has lived for a brief time in Shakespeare's world. Ackroyd constructs an intricate mosaic of Elizabethan context, which brings us closer to the shadowy figure." (Publishers Weekly)
"Ackroyd brings to his biographical reading the imaginative insights of a gifted poet and novelist, along with the passions of a scholar....Vivid and capacious, a life study worthy of its subject." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Susan on 10-16-06

Shakespeare by Peter Ackroyd

I've loved all of Ackroyd's biographies (Dickens, TS Eliot, Blake). One thing Ackroyd does better than anyone else is explain the texts of a writer in contemporary terms, so that here he explains Shakespeare's imagery (flowers, trees, landscapes, even books and events) in terms of what the man probably experienced. It made me want to reread Shakespeare from start to finish--surely how a biographer wants a reader to react.

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14 of 14 people found this review helpful


By W.Denis on 12-09-05

Much ado about something

This is a wonderful book. I never read nor heard nor watched Shakespeare's plays, but now I will and will have benefitted from the understanding that Mr Ackroid provids. I listened to the book because I knew I had missed an experience.

The reader, Simon Vance, was excellent and must have tried to connect Shakespeare's friend John Aubry with Patrick O'Brian's Captain of the "Surprise".

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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