Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop Black Friday Deals Refreshed in Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Paperwhite Listen in Prime Shop Now Shop now
Shakespeare: The World as a Stage and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
  • RRP: £8.99
  • You Save: £2.25 (25%)
FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books.
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Shakespeare: The World as... has been added to your Basket
Used: Good | Details
Sold by Fun Meister
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: A book which is in good overall condition. This means that it will be largely free of page markings, the spine will still be in solid, tight condition and there will be no pages which are missing from the book. The pages may have slightly turned corners but overall the book should be clean to touch and enjoyable to read.
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

Shakespeare: The World as a Stage (Eminent Lives) Paperback – 1 Apr 2008

245 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
£2.19 £0.01
"Please retry"
Note: This item is eligible for click and collect. Details
Pick up your parcel at a time and place that suits you.
  • Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
  • Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
How to order to an Amazon Pickup Location?
  1. Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
  2. Dispatch to this address when you check out
Learn more

Black Friday Refreshed in Books
Visit our Deals in Books store to discover Amazon's greatest ever deals. Shop now
£6.74 FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. In stock. Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Frequently Bought Together

  • Shakespeare: The World as a Stage (Eminent Lives)
  • +
  • Shakespeare on Toast: Getting a Taste for the Bard
Total price: £14.73
Buy the selected items together

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.

Start your six-month trial with Amazon Student

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (1 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000719790X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007197903
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. Settled in England for many years, he moved to America with his wife and four children for a few years ,but has since returned to live in the UK. His bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent, Notes From a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade in the UK.

Photography © Julian J

Product Description


‘A delight…A gem of a book.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Witty and infectiously enthusiastic.’ Spectator

'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

‘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

From the Back Cover

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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

See all Product Description

Inside This Book

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

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

174 of 179 people found the following review helpful By L O'connor on 14 Sept. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a very entertaining and informative account of the life and works of William Shakespere. Although the book is short, there is much fascinating information packed into it. I found it particularly fascinating to read about the huge contribution Shakespeare made to the development of the English language, and the large number of words now in common usage that were originally coined by him. Many myths about Shakespeare are cheeerfuly debunked by Mr Bryson, like the one about his work as an author never being mentioned in his lifetime, and the one about less being known about him than other contemporary dramatists (apparently more is known about Shakespeare than any of the others). The final chapter, in which Mr Bryson cheerfuly disposes of the fantasies of those who claim that Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare, is particularly entertaining.

The only complaint I have about this book is that I wish it had been longer, since Bill Bryson writes about his subject so entertainingly. However, Mr Bryson has evidentl taken to heart Shakespeare's own aphorism "brevity is the soul of wit."
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By The Kinniburgh Kid on 16 Nov. 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
At one point Bryson asks the listener to imagine how wonderful it must have been to have been able to see Shakespeare on stage acting and speaking his own work. Listening to the author read his own work here I concluded it might not have been that great.

I have very many Bryson audio CDs and enjoy them all, but this suffers from a delivery that seldom rises above a drone. Frankly, he sounds like he had a heavy cold.

That said - and it does take a bit of getting over - the content is good. As with 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' it provides the listener with a very accessible and entertaining way into and through a lot of information and research.

I suspect Shakespeare experts will learn little, but if, like me, you studied a few plays at school and watch the odd - and some decidedly odd - movie adaptation then this will easily fascinate you.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
111 of 116 people found the following review helpful By R. Creer on 27 Sept. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an easily readable and short life of Shakespeare written for a series called "Eminent Lives" and strangely coming after books on George Balanchine and George Crick!! In it Bill Bryson, in his inimitable witty style, tells us how little is known of WS's life but then goes on to examine what others have conjectured about it, pouring scorn on so many of the theories. I have read several attempts at Shakespeare biographies but still learned something from this [especially on the Bard's neologisms] but my favourite was the final debunking of the attempts to say the plays were written by someone else. Bryson does this so amusingly [can it be true that of the 5000 books written to prove Shakespeare's plays were written by someone other than Shakespeare, three were by Messers Looney, Silliman and Battey?!] that I was actually laughing as I read it. For example, on the claims for Marlowe to have been the real Shakespeare, Bryson writes "He was the right age ..., had the requisite talent and would certainly have had ample leisure after 1593, assuming he wasn't too dead to work."

So, Bryson has produced just what his publishers wanted, a brief biography that anyone can read and learn from, which appears both learned and well researched on the one hand, but also enjoyable and amusing on the other.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
65 of 69 people found the following review helpful By P. G. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Nov. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is well worth buying and is an interesting and enjoyable read. Bill Bryson is always worth reading, his common sense and down to earth style are always entertaining. What better subject could he have than our greatest writer ? So the book is onto a winner and delivers. I found it an easy and diverting read on holiday. I learned things I didn't know, about Shakespeare's "missing periods", about his relationship with Anne, about the extent to which he was a Jacobean as much as an Elizabethan writer. I particularly liked the debunking of those who claim that Shakespeare didn't write "Shakespeare".

So why only three stars? Well, the book comes across exactly as what it is, a commission. "Bill, could you write us a brief book about Shakespeare?" As such it firstly it feels a bit cobbled together, a bit rushed off. Secondly it is rather lacking in depth. Thirdly it rather lacks structure jumping erractically between the specifics of Shakespeare's life and the generalities of the world around him.

I am probably being over critical, in that the book does exactly what it says on the tin and is well worth a read. I just feel that if the drive to write the book had come from Bill Bryson rather than being a commission, the end result would have been a deeper more satisfying work.

So in summary, recommended as a good light read, just don't expect too much.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 26 May 2008
Format: Paperback
Iowa-raised and presumably corn-fed Bill Bryson is perhaps best known for his humorous travel essays about such places as England (NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND), Australia (IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY), the Appalachian Trail (A WALK IN THE WOODS), rural America (THE LOST CONTINENT), and, well, just about everywhere you can think of (A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING). His love of England, which I share, is what originally marked him as one of my favorite authors.

As one who obviously enjoys stringing words together and, moreover, has written books on the subject (THE MOTHER TONGUE and BRYSON'S DICTIONARY OF TROUBLESOME WORDS), it's not terribly surprising that Bill has combined his affections for England and its language in a volume about its greatest (play)writer, SHAKESPEARE: THE WORLD AS STAGE. And, of course, they're both named William.

Bryson admits up front that there's very little in the way of hard facts about William Shakespeare. But, in Bill's hands, that plus what can be deduced or inferred expands to a very satisfying and entertaining volume even for the culturally destitute reader who may not be a aficionado of the Bard's stuff. Like myself.

Bill sets the stage, so to speak, with a cursory examination of the English period contemporary with his subject: the monarchy of Elizabeth I, certain London structures (London Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral), the Thames, religious turmoil, public pastimes, the state of the London theater scene, the business of being a playwright, the structure of contemporary plays, and the art of bookbinding.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews