Hamlet

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Penguin Adult, Apr 7, 2005 - Drama - 320 pages
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Perhaps the single most influential work of English drama, William Shakespeare's Hamlet is a timeless tragedy of the conflicted loyalties, madness, betrayal and terrible revenge. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by T.J.B. Spencer with an introduction by Alan Sinfield.

'To be or not to be - that is the question'

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. When young prince Hamlet is confronted by his father's ghost on the battlements of Castle Elsinore, he is burdened with a terrible task: slay King Claudius, Hamlet's uncle, who the ghost alleges murdered him. Wrestling with his conscience, Hamlet feigns wild madness while plotting a brutal revenge, alienating his mother Queen Gertrude and spurning his lover Ophelia. But the act of insanity takes Hamlet perilously close to the reality, wreaking havoc on guilty and innocent alike.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to Hamlet, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay by Paul Prescott discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wrote about 38 plays (the precise number is uncertain), many of which are regarded as the most exceptional works of drama ever produced, including Romeo and Juliet (1595), Henry V (1599), Hamlet (1601), Othello (1604), King Lear (1606) and Macbeth (1606), as well as a collection of 154 sonnets, which number among the most profound and influential love-poetry in English.

If you enjoyed Hamlet, you might like Shakespeare's Macbeth, also available in Penguin Shakespeare.

'It has everything - intrigue, romance, politics, violence, revenge, jealousy, wit. It plays itself out on such a grand scale'

Kenneth Branagh

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About the author (2005)

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, and was baptised on 26 April 1564. His father was a glove maker and wool merchant and his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a well-to-do local land owner. Shakespeare was probably educated in Stratford's grammar school. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had a daughter the following year and twins in 1585.

Shakespeare's theatrical life seems to have commenced around 1590. We do know that he was part of the Lord Chamberlain's Company, which was renamed the King's Company in 1603 when James I succeeded to the throne. The Company acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London, near the banks of the Thames - the Globe and the Blackfriars.

Shakespeare's poetry was published before his plays, with two poems appearing in 1593 and 1594, dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Most of Shakespeare's sonnets were probably written at this time as well.

Records of Shakespeare's plays begin to appear in 1594, and he produced roughly two a year until around 1611. His earliest plays includeHenry VIandTitus Andronicus. A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Richard IIall date from the mid to late 1590s. Some of his most famous tragedies were written in the early 1600s; these include Hamlet, Ot

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