White Hart, Red Lion: The England of Shakespeare's Histories Paperback – 1 Jul 2013
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"[An] enjoyable and sincere grand tour... fortified with pork pies and pinot grigio, accompanied on occasion by fellow Royal Shakespeare Company actors, and alternating between a campervan named Bongo and an open-topped MG, Asbury combines theatrical reminiscence and historical narrative." - London "Times"
About the Author
Nick Asbury has performed on stage all over the world, and on screen has appeared in everything from The Inbetweeners to Coronation Street. Having spent many years at the Royal Shakespeare Company, he appeared in their award-winning Histories cycle which gave rise to his bestselling book Exit Pursued By A Badger (Oberon 2009). He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Top Customer Reviews
Like a mash up of the very best of Bill Bryson, W.G. Sebald and David Starkey, White Hart Red Lion is an astonishing book. Heartfelt and passionate about his subject, Asbury takes us on a rich and detailed journey into history that will leave the reader unable ever to look at this country in the same way again. The tone veers from farce to elegy and everywhere in between and the swirl of Dukes and Earls, Kings and Queens leaves one dizzy. Asbury's extensive knowledge of his subject means he is able to convey in rich detail the internecine politics and chicanery of the Wars of the Roses as well as the bloody, brutal and visceral realities of battle. His evocation of the - now largely forgotten - Battle of Towton, where 28,000 men lost their lives, the single largest loss of life on English soil, is heartstopping and heartbreaking in equal measure.
The book also provides a fascinating insight into the world Shakespeare was writing for and the pragmatic and commercial decisions he made in `being creative with the truth' in his History cycle. It gives one even more reason to revere him and is one in the eye for the nonsense brigade who argue that a poor lad from Warwickshire couldn't possibly have written the greatest plays in the English language.
Underlying all of this is Nick himself. As with W.G.Read more ›
Nick Asbury is an actor who spent years playing in the RSC Histories cycle (Richard II to Richard III). This book travels the territory of the History plays, ie that of the "cousin wars", and aims to show both how the plays derive from their landscape, and how they relate to events in Shakespeare's time and parallel events in ours.
Now I've always liked this approach; it makes sense. When a dramatist uses "history", he is nearly always trying to make some point about his own times, often one he dare not make directly. We know that Euripides used events in The Trojan Women to criticise obliquely the conduct of his Athenian townsmen, only a year earlier, in enslaving fellow-Greeks on Melos. We can easily see that Brenton's The Romans in Britain are the Britons in Ireland. But for some reason Shakespearean studies, at least in school, often ignore this aspect, as if he were Georgette Heyer dealing in archaic escapism. So we fail to notice that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of his protagonists were still mighty in the land, indeed paying his salary, and that the seesawing fortunes of Catholicism and Protestantism in his day mirrored those of York and Lancaster in the plays, with those who wished to survive having to be quite flexible about which side they were on.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quite brilliant. Thoroughly researched but eminently readable. Fun, fast, detailed and human. Can't recommend it enough.Published 5 months ago by Dr. Paul Worthington
Love Shakespeare , love Stratford, love the book. Paints a written picture of the ordinary everyday life and scenes that were there behind the plays of the time.Published 14 months ago by Carol Lesley Lane