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The Secret Life of William Shakespeare Hardcover – Apr 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250025036
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250025036
  • Product Dimensions: 18.6 x 3.6 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,359,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jude Morgan, whose previous novels include PASSION and THE TASTE OF SORROW, was born and brought up in Peterborough on the edge of the Fens, and was a student on the University of East Anglia MA Course in Creative Writing under Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter.

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Review

'In this brilliant evocation of mid-16th century, full of atmosphere and detail, we follow not only the young man's journey but that of Anne's too... the lives of Kit Marlowe and Ben Johnson are expertly woven through Will's story and the author fleshes out his protagonists and their relationships so perfectly that the reader cannot help but become immersed in their joys and sorrows' (Choice Magazine)

'Happy to combine romance with academic investigation, Morgan places Shakespeare's relationship with his wife at the novel's heart... he introduces encounters that we understand will be later incorporated into his plays *****' (The Lady)

'This beautifully written novel convincingly recreates the Elizabethan world' (Press Association) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

For fans of David Mitchell and The Children's Book, or of the blockbusting biographies of great writers, or just anyone who loves books and wants an intelligent, utterly compelling, brilliant read, The Secret Life of William Shakespeare brings the past unforgettably to life --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Petra Bryce VINE VOICE on 22 July 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel aims to provide the reader with a fuller understanding of William Shakespeare the man. We join him on the eve of his meeting Anne Hathaway, his future wife, and follow him through episodes of domestic life at home in Stratford to his being taken on by a touring group of actors to success in London, first as an actor, then also as a notable playwright, and achieving acclaim both under Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. The book also tries to acquaint the reader with the two other major players in the London theatre scene of the time, namely Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson.

From the first sentence, we are dropped into the middle of the plot, no gentle introduction or preamble. Only rudimentary facts about Shakespeare's life are known, so that he is at once the best known and the least known of figures, as Bill Bryson aptly puts it. The reader joins him for brief but significant episodes in his life and then often jumps years ahead to the next event. Jude Morgan tries to fill in the blanks with plausible thoughts and actions, backed up by research into what is known, turning a life of facts into a narrative and the actor and playwright William Shakespeare into an actual living, breathing, feeling human being. Maybe the author or the publisher felt that there wasn't enough material to deal with Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway alone, so there are sections that deal with Marlowe and Jonson's lives, too. At times I found these diversions distracting - the book is called the Secret Life of William Shakespeare after all - but these two were contemporaries and rivals of Shakespeare and possibly even well known to him, and the author aims to explore the Bard's (fictitious?) difficult relationship with them, even if he goes into too much detail at times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Skeadugenga TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As historical novels go, this is a good one, well written and the author gets the dialogue pitched right without plagues of thees and thous, verilies or forsooths.

It is, of course, fiction. We know too little of Shakespeare's life to make an entertaining story without embroidery or speculation.

As someone who is fascinated by the mind behind the body of work created, who if given one chance to go back in time would be in the Globe before you could say "Mermaid Tavern", I was slightly disappointed in this book since its not about the secret life of William Shakespeare, this was really the secret life of Ann Hathaway and a somewhat uninvolving love story. We don't learn much about what was going on in William's head - its all observations upon William the chameleon from those who knew him best.

However, it is beautifully done. I found the beginning in Stratford a bit slow, but things really get going when Will finds his way into the players and finally gets to London. But this is still not "a man, who thinks and lies and bleeds" - Jonson is a more vivid character than Will in this book. And the episode with the dark lady did nothing for me in terms of plot or character development other than as a device to move Ann's actions on to the end.

Will is an absence at the heart of his own story and if this was the author's intention then he succeeded.

For those who do want a book about William Shakespeare and what he might have been like as a man - this is the best Shakespeare imagining that I've found Will
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 May 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I got introduced to Jude Morgan through the very wonderful The Taste of Sorrow and was swept up by his ability to write what I suppose must be called 'fictional biography'. In that earlier book, he had clearly steeped himself intensely in the writings of the Bronte Sisters, and also in the known biography of their family, and had produced an astonishingly beautifully written, creative piece, true to their literature and what we know of their lives, but rounded by the imagination of a superb narrative and empathetic imagination. I felt my understanding of the books and the lives had been enriched.

In that earlier book, we were dealing with a more nearly modern world, where facts can be checked, less than 200 years ago. This time, Morgan has freer range with creative imagination, as the facts of Shakespeare's life are far fewer, though the canon of work by which the man is also revealed, is much larger. And it seems to me that what Morgan has so clearly done is to say 'by their works, you shall know them', and has steeped himself in the work, to reveal an idea of Shakespeare the man. Which seems enormously right and proper.

For me, this was an utterly successful book. I have spent the past few days letting the reading settle, really wishing I could meet Shakespeare, but with a wry smile, as of course I can, by re-reading the works. Morgan, a beautiful writer, does well with these fictional biographies of other beautiful writers. Phrases from the plays and poems are scattered, very naturally, within the text.

He has even made an acute and creative leap to make a virtue out of the fact that we know very little of the man.
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