The Secret Life of William Shakespeare Paperback – 27 Sep 2012
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'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 the Hardcover edition.
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 lifeSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
There are two aspects to the book that make it so good: the style and the content. Of these, the style is the one that may put some people off. It's certainly not a light read. If you want a breezy Elizabethan tale, then this may not be for you. It's unashamedly literary and not always an easy read, but as with watching a Shakespeare play, after a short while what seems at first impenetrable soon fades and the rich language and style becomes a strength. It's worth noting that he uses the present tense for much of the book too.
Morgan has an ability to suggest the style of his subjects in his writing. His "The Taste of Sorrow" strongly suggests the writing style of the Brontë sisters who are its subject matter. Without taking anything away from that book, it's rather more difficult to achieve this with Shakespeare, but again he manages to do that. This means that when there is dialogue between say Shakespeare and Ben Jonson or Anne Hathaway, it at least seems as if this comes from the same mouth that wrote the plays, while at the same time making it intelligible to modern readers. It's skillfully done and very rewarding if you are prepared to put in some effort.Read more ›
The Secret Life of William Shakespeare is, of course, the story of a playwright, the man who may have been in London, mixing with Marlowe, Kyd, Dexter, Jonson and the rest. The man who may have needed to be in the London of the Chamberlain's Men, the Queen's Men, a player, learning his craft with Henslowe and Burbage and the rest. Was it there he met the Dark Lady of the Sonnets - and were those verses meant for the Earl of Southampton or for some French temptress?
All these are touched on, are essential threads in Morgan's book. But at it's heart this is the story of a marriage, a courtship, a pregnant bride, children, absences in pursuit of ambition, jealousy and temptation. In the telling, the author has found a voice that feels authentic without descent into mummery, making Cheapside as real in the mind's eye as Sheep Street. The language, in paragraph after paragraph, pins the image to the page. And the insight, the perception of what love is, underpins all.
If this suggests a reader carried away by a book, so be it. I doubt if I will read a better this year.
You really need a spark of genius to put words into William Shakespeare's mouth, he had such facility with words, coining a new one when there was nothing that would immediately answer. Jude Morgan is very, very good, but there was a tiny lack, for me, of that spark of brilliance, and a recognition that all the best lines in the book actually come from Shakespeare's plays, but this is subtly handled and there's never any hint of pastiche. Morgan uses the neologising nicely, making it the subject of discussion between writers, producing some inspired examples. There are some well-wrought Shakespearean conceits, too.
The joy of this book was when the attention was turned to writing - to the creative drive, the pleasure of words, the turning of old stories into new.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Have not finished reading it yet, but am enjoying it. There is a good mix of fact and fiction.Published 11 months ago by Jeanne
I am a writer, and run a successrul writer's group, so approach thisquite substantial from a strong position of writing and editing. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Elizabeth S. Wells
I heard Jude read from his book at the NAWG Warwick Festival and had to buy the book. I was not disappointed.It is just my favourite type of fiction. Read morePublished on 10 July 2014 by Mrs. Anne V Steward
Found it very confusing to read and figure out who everyone was so gave up in the end so not sure what the book is anoutPublished on 22 April 2014 by PETER ROBSON
When I titled this review an entertaining fairy tale it was not meant in a derogatory term. There is not a lot known about Shakespeare's life in detail. Read morePublished on 24 Jun. 2013 by Angela Lovelace
Author Jude Morgan's ninth book 'The Secret Life Of William Shakespeare' once again turns to the fictional elaboration of key historical characters (a style previously explored... Read morePublished on 7 May 2013 by Chris Hall
To be honest, I couldn't really get to grips with this, it didn't grab me and I've stowed it away to try to complete it at a later date. Read morePublished on 28 Mar. 2013 by Cath B
If you ever wondered about the man behind the sonnets and those wonderful tragedies and thigh slapping comedies then this is definitely the novel for you. Read morePublished on 7 Mar. 2013 by Brett H