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Shakespeare's Wife Paperback – 3 Sep 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; Export ed edition (3 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747591709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747591702
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,490,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Greer dares to think the unthinkable ... this is a bold and imaginative book' Independent 'Excellent ... a marvellous imagining of the life of Shakespeare's wife and a devastating exposure of the misogyny of the male biographers who have disparaged her' Sunday Telegraph 'This is a spirited, voluble, scholarly book which gives some depth and some dignity to the marginalised Mrs Shakespeare' Guardian 'A refreshing corrective to the usual portrait ... Greer is impressive when it comes to detailing their Stratford life and times ... It's robust, lively stuff' The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Germaine Greer gained her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1967 with a thesis on Shakespeare's Early Comedies and has taught Shakespeare at universities in Australia, Britain and the US. In 1986 she was invited to contribute the volume on Shakespeare to the prestigious Past Masters series. In 1989 she set up her own publishing imprint, Stump Cross Books, and went on to publish scholarly editions of Katherine Philips, Anne Wharton and Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea. She lives on three acres by a motorway exit in north-west Essex, with two dogs, thirteen geese and a fluctuating number of doves. Shakespheare's Wife has been shortlisted for The Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Voyager on 1 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Greer successfully demonstrates that many of the assumptions about Anne are scholarly prejudice. Unfortunately, this takes only a small proportion of the book, even allowing for her introducing prejudices of her own. For example, in her widowhood Anne preferred the jolly household of her younger daughter, Judith, to that of her sober elder daughter, Susanna. This is guesswork - there is no evidence Anne had any preference, that Judith was jolly, or Susanna was sober.

The rest of the book is padded out with undigested slabs of social history. In the Hathaway family background, we are given three pages on the earnings of a playwright who may have been the same person as someone who may have been related to Anne. No attempt is made to link this to what Will might have earned later in the book. At times I felt sections of the book were there because Greer knew the facts, rather than because they had any bearing on the subject.

This is an essay padded out to book length. Germaine Greer has written better books.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Schneehase VINE VOICE on 20 May 2008
Format: Paperback
I found this a very convincing portrait of a forgotten life and of an often unfairly villified woman. Before I read this book I hadn't realised I fell into the category of what Greer calls 'Bardolaters', people who assume that Shakespeare was such a genius and that his wife was an illiterate cunning woman who trapped a gullible boy into a marriage that he hated and couldn't wait to get away from. Throughout the book, Greer gives Ann her proper title - Ann Shakespeare. I have never seen her referred to as anything other than Ann Hathaway by other writers. This is a powerful statement that puts the author on Ann's side and enables the reader to re-evaluate what they think of Ann and her life and marriage.
Greer rightly praises Ann's achievements, unnoticed until now: she bore and brought up 3 children through plague and famine on her own, she lived in the same small town all her married life without a hint of scandal and she seems to have not only lived, but prospered, keeping herself and her family with no help from her husband.
Greer also points out that Ann cannot have felt abandoned by her husband as there was a legal process for claiming abandonment for wives in that situation and Ann did not initiate that proceeding.
Much of the book is taken up with accounts of women contemporary with Ann as a way of extrapolating what her life might have been like and this can become confusing and occasionally a bit tedious, which is why I've given the book 4 stars and not 5.
If you want a balanced and compassionate look at the life of a woman who has had a very bad press since the 17th Century, you won't find a better book than this. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in how ordinary people lived at that time and how this extraordinary woman might have lived as well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thought provoking and refreshing challenge to the conventional view that ignorant, illiterate Ann Hathaway had trapped a reluctant Will into a loveless marriage. Germaine Greer builds a strong case, for a society in which literacy is prized and expected in women.
Occasionally this reader felt a bit overwhelmed by the enormous amount of detail packed into this work. However the sheer range of evidence reassures that this is an authoritative and compelling account of Shakespearean Stratford Life. Absorbing.
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By Debsom on 26 Jan. 2015
Format: Hardcover
As usual Ms Greer speculates on life and shows us a new view of the world. Shakespeare is very dear to my heart, and so I wanted to know about Mrs S. However a bit like Mr Bob Dylan and his wife Sarah. catching sight of the 'real woman' is obscured through the mist of time. Ms Greer does however manage to illuminate something of the social times, and politics of gender relations.
the book was in good condition,packaged well, and arrived promptly
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unusual style of writing to get the historical facts accross, but it worked read it from cover to cover over two nights, didn't really reveal very much about the genealogy of the family, but then that would be pushing it, but overall a good read.
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By Seriousreader on 31 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Engrossing & informative, what a researcher, and how lucky we are to have G.G.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful By teacherspet on 13 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
A very good book. Yes, in parts it must be fancy, as little is known of the man himself never mind Mrs.S. But Greer puts the pieces together into a more than adequate whole.
A good read, and I'm using parts of this in the classroom to flesh out the life of Shakespeare.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, though, sadly, I missed the week it was on, too busy reading other books. It is overwhelmingly academic in outlook, but nonetheless fascinating for all that. Germaine Greer is never contentious in this book, but she is fair. Disliking the assumptions, often with no evidence whatsoever, that Shakespeare, as a boy of eighteen was seduced into marriage by Anne Hathaway, who was 26 at the time; that Shakespeare did not care for her (no evidence beyond the fact that he followed his fortunes in London, as many others did, leaving her at home). But this was not necessarily abandonment. Anne was never a charge on the parish and she brought up three children, largely on her own it is true, but that in itself speaks for a resourcefulness and a capability - not unique by any means - but to be admired, one might think. Times were hard and people had to shift for themselves or go under.

The main problem is that although there is some evidence that Shakespeare spent a quantity of time away from Stratford and Anne, we have no evidence to suggest that he might not have visited home - even, perhaps, regularly. Reading some of the sonnets (and following Greer's contention), there is evidence that he cared for her, that he understood her loneliness when he was away, and that he wrote of her obliquely. Anne could very probably read. Certainly her status as a minor member of the gentry suggests that she was literate, if not to the same standard of her husband.

The male intelligentsia and the Shakespeare canon writers very often dismiss his marriage as loveless - again - on no evidence at all and against the suggestiveness of an abiding relationship that was, of necessity, at some remove.
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