• by Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by Bill Bryson
  • 5 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself.Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, from academics to eccentrics. Emulating the style of his famous travelogues, Bryson records episodes in his research, including a visit to a bunker-like basement room in Washington, D.C., where the world's largest collection of First Folios is housed.
Bryson celebrates Shakespeare as a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness, a coiner of phrases ("vanish into thin air", "foregone conclusion", "one fell swoop") that even today have common currency. His Shakespeare is like no one else's: the beneficiary of Bryson's genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivaled in our time.


What the Critics Say

"Bryson is a pleasant and funny guide to a subject at once overexposed and elusive." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Too Little, Too Short

Bill Bryson's voice (both actual and literary) shine through in this short work, detailing what is known and knowable about William Shakespeare. Because little is known about Shakespeare, this book has less of the amusing anecdotes that make books like "In a Sunburned Country" such a delight. It's quite frustrating to realize that we know so little about a figure so important to English literature. Still it is an interesting exposition on an interesting man, or rather, what we expect is an interesting man. The audiobook it self is only a little over 5 hours long, but (as of November 2007) there is an interview with Bryson appended on end for another bit. I liked it, but then I expect that I would enjoy Bryson writing about asparagus. The chapter where he discusses the various theories about Shakespeare not actually writing the plays of Shakespeare is the best part; but there the book ends. In the end it is a barely satifying book because of the paucity of the material, but it is a book that is well written and narrated.
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- Charles L. Burkins

To be avoided.

Being a die hard Bryson fan, it's hard to imagine this book came from him. The pitcher has lost his arm but stayed on the mound! A fantastically dull book. This is the buy of the year if one is interested in reading all he could never want to know about what can never be known about Shakespeare. A true shame it has Bryson's name on it.
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- Sean Andres

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-23-2007
  • Publisher: HarperAudio