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Sweet Swan of Avon: Did a Woman Write Shakespeare? Hardcover – 15 Mar 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Peachpit Press; 1 edition (15 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321426401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321426406
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 2.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,252,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

It is long overdue that someone took a closer look at the brilliant Mary Sidney. I have a suspicion that Mary Sidney’s life, and especially her dedication to the English language after her brother’s death, may throw important light on the mysterious authorship of the Shakespeare plays and poems.
Mark Rylance
Actor; Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 1996–2006; Chairman of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust

For more than two hundred years, a growing number of researchers have questioned whether the man named William Shakespeare actually wrote the works attributed to him. There is no paper trail for William Shakespeare―no record that he was ever paid for writing, nothing in his handwriting but a few signatures on legal documents, no evidence of his presence in the royal court except as an actor in his later years, no confirmation of his involvement in the literary circles of the time. With so little information about this man―and even less evidence connecting him to the plays and sonnets―what can and what can’t we assume about the author of the greatest works of the English language?

For the first time, Robin P. Williams presents an in-depth inquiry into the possibility that Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, wrote the works attributed to the man named William Shakespeare. As well educated as Queen Elizabeth I, this woman was at the forefront of the literary movement in England, yet not allowed to write for the public stage. But that’s just the beginning . . .

The first question I am asked by curious freshmen in my Shakespeare course is always, “Who wrote these plays anyway?” Now, because of Robin Williams’ rigorous scholarship and artful sleuthing, Mary Sidney Herbert will forever have to be mentioned as a possible author of the Shakespeare canon. Sweet Swan of Avon doesn’t pretend to put the matter to rest, but simply shows how completely reasonable the authorship controversy is, and how the idea of a female playwright surprisingly answers more Shakespearean conundrums than it creates...

Cynthia Lee Katona
Professor of Shakespeare and Women’s Studies, Ohlone College; Author of Book Savvy

About the Author

Robin Williams is the successful author of dozens of titles and has books in twenty-three languages. In this book, she has turned her attention to a topic she has been researching for seven years. An Independent Scholar, Robin has studied Shakespeare at St. John's College in Santa Fe and Oxford University in England. She teaches Shakespeare for adults at the local college, and guides two play readings a month. She runs ten-week guided discussions of selected plays for advanced readers, called The Understanders. For three years she has been a featured speaker at the Authorship Conference at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, and will be consulting on the upcoming authorship exhibit at the Globe. Robin is an Associate Member, by invitation of Mark Rylance, of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust in London, founded in 1922.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this. An affectionate biography of "Sidney's sister Pembroke's mother".
I doubt that anything could convince a Stratfordian, nor an Oxfordian, that their hero was not the author, but I became convinced some years ago that whoever did write the History Plays had a close connection with the Herbert family.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful read! Robin Williams takes us on a centuries old thrill ride, connecting the long-faded dots and allowing us to experinece the physical, cultural and emotional landscape that surrounded the author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. It doesn't matter one bit whether or not you like Shakespeare, are interested in Elizabethan literature, or have ever heard of Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke. By the end of the book you'll be convinced you've just be let in on a monumental secret, locked away for hundreds of years.

Robin reveals the truth slowly, without lecturing or forcing the reader to accept her personal opinions. She does it with well documented facts, given to you in a long conversation that leaves you feeling immersed in the life of the most fascinating woman of her times, Mary Sidney. You'll be amazed!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an important work, a great read, and a vital contribution to the ongoing "Authorship" debate. Meticulously and deeply researched, it deals with facts - which is so refreshing among the plethora of theories and arguments in this area that rely on "probablilities" and "liklihoods" - and presents an overwhelming case in favour of this remarkable woman. Personally, I am now convinced that Mary Sidney was the true author of the sonnets - and if that is the case, it's a short step to her also being being the author of the plays. Please buy this book, read it, and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same. This is an important piece of work that has opened the door on what I believe will soon be a flood of revelaton.
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Format: Paperback
I am very interested in the subject of Shakespearean authorship, and have read many books on the topic.

Why should you be sceptical of Shakespeare as an author?

If you are like me you may assume that the person who wrote Shakespeare was University educated. Yet there is no evidence even that he attended grammar school. If he had attended University either Oxford or Cambridge would have claimed him. Yet the plays express scholarly values and some even feature scholars as main characters.

What of connection with patrons?

Other than the first two poems Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece both dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, there is no documented record of any correspondence between Shakespeare and Southampton.

What about his will?

His will does not mention a single poem or piece of literature, and assumming the writer of the plays had books yet William Shakspeare does not bequeath any literature in his will.

What about about evidence of writing?

Not a single handwriting example exists that can be said to be Shakspeare. Only six signature said to be his exist, and even these are inconsistent and experts cannot agree that all are his. The method of making out the signature compared to well known writers of the era is considered by some not to be that of a writer.

What about references from other poets?

Considering the supposed fame of Shakespeare there is only one reference to Shakespeare by other poets following his death in 1616 and the publication of the First Folio in 1623.
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