Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare ? and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
  • RRP: £20.00
  • You Save: £0.01
FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Contested Will: Who Wrote... has been added to your Basket
+ £2.80 UK delivery
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Your purchase also supports literacy charities.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? Hardcover – 1 Apr 2010


See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
£19.99
£2.70 £0.01
£19.99 FREE Delivery in the UK. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? + 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare
Price For Both: £32.07

Buy the selected items together


Free One-Day Delivery for six months with Amazon Student


Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057123576X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571235766
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.3 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 388,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

'I devoured this book. Shapiro guides us through this strange history with a beguiling mixture of scepticism and sympathy. Packed with many fine pen-portraits, it's a timely contribution to a vexed debate.' --Simon Russell Beale

'Shapiro's book is… authoritative, lucid and devastatingly funny, and its brief concluding statement of the case for Shakespeare is masterly.' --Peter Carey, Sunday Times

'Unlike most other books on the subject ... it is a pleasure to read. Like its splendid predecessor, 1599: A year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2005), it is briskly paced, cleverly detailed, elegantly argued, and never forgets that for all the complexities and quiddities of the material, the writing of history is essentially the telling of a story (or in this case, the story of a story).' --Charles Nicholl, Times Literary Supplement

Book Description

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? is James Shapiro's investigation into who wrote Shakespeare's plays, from the bestselling author of 1599.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Terrace Ghost on 27 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If his supporters are correct, the 17th Earl of Oxford would not have been surprised to have been contacted over 300 years after his death and asked how he managed to write the Complete Works of Shakespeare without anybody finding out. In fact, as of course befits the aristocracy, the Earl was most accommodating and even invited the spirit of William Shakespeare along to help explain how they did it. Even better, Oxford produced some new verse in the same style to demonstrate. At this point Shapiro notes, sadly, that the Earl's posthumous compositions weren't really up to Shakespearian standards.

He takes a similar approach throughout this excellent book. To take on the conspiracy theorists (I refuse to call them Anti-Stratfordians), James Shapiro gives them what they ask for and takes them seriously, explaining not just their viewpoint but the underlying assumptions that got them there. Knowing all the while, of course, that by doing so he will be allowing them to start holding séances with deceased noblemen, claiming that the Earl of Oxford was the son and incestuous lover of Queen Elizabeth on whom he fathered the Earl of Southampton or indulging in spectacular feats of circular logic:
"Why is there no mention of the plays being written by someone else?"
"It was such common knowledge that no one ever mentioned it"
"How can you tell?"
"By the fact that nobody ever mentioned it"
The only thing that rattles him at all is the increasingly prevalent belief in our culture that "balance" and "impartiality" bestow the right of equal coverage on any theorist who shouts loud enough regardless of the sanity of their theory.

Fortunately, this is not a book which wastes its time examining the detailed claims of Oxfordians and others.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
63 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Diacha on 18 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor James Shapiro's "Contested Will" is an entertaining and scholarly romp through the history of the dispute about who wrote Shakespeare's plays.

Shapiro writes with commanding authority - his scholarship is evident throughout, down to the very minutiae of such things as Elizabethan typesetting practices - and with a storyteller's natural gift. And this is a great story to tell: full of cranks, skullduggery,large egos and big guns.

The debate over authorship began in earnest in the second half of the nineteenth century. The paucity of detailed knowledge of Shakespeare's life and the apparent irreconcilability of what little was known with the erudition and aristocratic voice of the plays led many to question whether this "third-rate play actor" could really have authored such works of genius. A cast of rather obsessive individuals stepped in to advocate a broad range of alternative authors. Shapiro focuses mainly on two: Francis Bacon, whose cause was espoused by the American teacher Delia (no relation) Bacon and the 17th Earl of Oxford, advanced by failed sect preacher, J.T. Looney. Many eminent people subscribed to the cause of one or other claimant: Twain, Helen Keller, Freud, James, Orson Welles, various U.S. Supreme Court justices, Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance among them.

Shapiro himself is a convinced Stratfordian. In "Contested Will," he patiently and respectfully (for example, he pre-empts sniggers about nominative determinism by explaining that Looney's family name is pronounced to rhyme with "boney") unpicks the arguments for the main pretenders.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Steven on 2 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Shapiro's earlier book, 1599, was a work of genius. I approached Contested Will with a little more caution, however - the hook seemed less obvious, the trail and approach possibly a bit too scholarly, academic and dry for my tastes. Where 1599 was all about Shakespeare, his plays and that specific year, the whole point to Contested Will seemed to be that old Shakey might not even be there.

But the scheme of the book is logical and, after a slow start, quite compelling. Shapiro sets out his stall by examining how historians and critics first came to question the available evidence of Shakespeare's existence and the authenticity of the plays. After that he lays bare the history of the two most prominent counter-claimants - Bacon and Oxford - before weighing in with his own evidence for the Bard. While the arguments and beliefs of people such as Freud, Twain, Keller and the (unfortunately-named) Looney are fascinating in themselves, and Shapiro's own wry commentary on those beliefs is priceless, without Shakespeare's own presence in the narrative there does seem to be something lost from the core of the book.

What I do firmly agree with is Shapiro's rubbishing of the theory (developed most strongly by Keller and Twain) that an author can only "write what he knows" - that imagination is unimportant or irrelevant, and that Shakespeare, as an upstart from the shires rather than a court-educated nobleman, could not have possessed the breadth of knowledge to write on such a variety of subjects.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews



Feedback