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White Hart, Red Lion: The England of Shakespeare's Histories Paperback – 1 Jul 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Oberon Books Ltd. (1 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849432414
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849432412
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.3 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"[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.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After really enjoying Nick Asbury's previous book, Exit Pursued By A Badger, detailing his experiences as a member of the RSC Histories company, I was intrigued by the premise of his follow up: ostensibly a road trip where Nick and some of his fellow Histories cast members would visit the sites and places featured in Shakespeare's cycle of plays. But the book itself surpassed all my expectations and then some...
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.
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Format: Paperback
A fascinating journey throughout Britain and Shakespeare's histories. I thought I knew it all but there was much I didn't know. It is also a lament for the country of our youth with a sense of foreboding for the future. Highly recommended.
David Weston
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Format: Kindle Edition
History like I'd never read it before. Asbury makes you feel that the historical movers and shakers are individuals whose influences, whether baleful or benign, still exert a tangible force on our lives today. A fabulous read and definitely recommended.
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Format: Paperback
The title comes from the fact that Richard II, an ineffectual soul for the most part, gave us many of our modern pub names - he made it law that inns should have a sign, and since they tended to be places where the adherents of this or that local lord, aka bandit, foregathered, they soon adopted those lords' badges.

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.
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