'This season's best-selling volume.' Independent.
'Pleasant quirky details…make for enjoyable interludes…admirable.' Sunday Telegraph
'A brilliantly funny and gently insightful travel guide to 16th century England. Bryson is great at picking out of the morass of Elizabethan fact the small details that illuminate and amuse…he also uncovers from the world that surrounded the theatre some fascinating examples of Elizabethan eccentricity…As an abbreviated tour around the world of Shakespeare, this could hardly be bettered.' Sunday Times
'less a biography than a delightful account of Shakespeare's elusiveness – and the extraordinary lengths people have gone to remedy it…the pairing of Bryson with Shakespeare is a happy one.’ TLS
'Bill Bryson jogs along in his own ineffable way, good–humoured, undoctrinaire, nodding respectfully at experts but confidently following his own inclinations…he is shrewd on telling detail.' The Times
‘Bill Bryson has always been able to spot a market; and there ought to be a market for his latest book…an accessible, sensible Life of Shakespeare…surely a fine gift for someone encountering Shakespeare for the first time…Bryson is shrewd…and as funny as you'd expect…he sets down all the important bits of evidence, and assesses them in a measured scholarly way. He's good value too.’ Daily Telegraph
‘Measured, sensible and, at times, as wryly humorous as you'd expect.’ Times
‘Bryson uses an inimitably light touch and squeezes a vast subject down to manageable proportions…he is a warm and funny guide through the whole complicated morass of Shakespearean scholarship.’ Financial Times
'Bill Bryson offers us a brisk summary of all the things we'd like to know, but don't…enough to be absorbed in an entertaining evening.' Daily Mail
'Fascinating…Bryson is the master of digression. Without the asides and witty observations about Shakespearean scholarship, there wouldn't be a book. And that would be a pity.' The Guardian
'Bill Bryson's short biography of Shakespeare is a delight…fresh, concise and…sharply illuminting…Bryson is brilliant at picking out just a few telltale details to paint a bigger picture…a gem of a book, likely to be useful to both beginners and to seasoned Shakespeareans alike.' Mail on Sunday
‘A joy from first to last…this is an accessible, exhilarating biography that's shot through with Bryson's trademark humour and irreverence…tremendous.’ Time Out
Praise for ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’:
‘A modern classic.’ The New York Times
‘It represents a wonderful education, and all schools would be better places if it were the core science reader on the curriculum.’ Times Literary Supplement
Praise for ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’:
'Outlandishly and improbably entertaining…inevitably [I] would
be reduced to body-racking, tear-inducing, de-couching laughter.' New York Times
'Always witty and sometimes hilarious…wonderfully funny and
touching.' Literary Review
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 today’s most respected academics to eccentrics like Delia Bacon, an American who developed a firm but unsubstantiated conviction that her namesake Francis Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare’s plays — she spent months in silence at Bacon’s home, ‘absorbing atmospheres’ that bolstered her theory. With shades 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 a home at the tips of our tongues. His Shakespeare is like no-one else’s — the beneficiary of Bryson’s genial nature, his engaging scepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivalled in our time.