Tales from Shakespeare

Front Cover
Penguin Books USA, 1986 - Fiction - 332 pages
1 Review
A wonderful way to experience 20 of Shakespeare's timeless plays, this retelling of the stories in prose by the famous nineteenth-century brother and sister, Charles and Mary Lamb, was originally published just for children. Keeping Shakespeare's own words whenever possible, but making the plots and language easily accessible, this entertaining and very readable collection has remained a standard book of children's literature since its first appearance in London in 1807 and has delighted generations of adults as well. Here Shakespeare's best known tragedies and comedies come vividly to life. Whether it's the moving drama of "Hamlet, " the stormy action of "Macbeth," or the great wit of "The Taming of the Shrew, " each play is presented with charm and clarity for readers of any age to enjoy - as a helpful preface to the original Elizabethan version or simply as enriching, unforgettable stories in themselves.

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About the author (1986)

Charles Lamb was born in London, England in 1775. He was educated at the well-known Christ's Hospital school, which he attended from age eight to 15. It was there that he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who became a lifelong friend; the friendship was to have a significant influence on the literary careers of both men. Lamb did not continue his education at the university, probably because of a nervous condition that resulted in a severe stammer. Instead, he went to work as a clerk, eventually becoming an accounting clerk with the East India Company, where he worked for most of his adult life. However, he continued to pursue his literary interests as well and became well-known as a writer. His best work is considered to be his essays, originally published under the pen name Elia, but Lamb also wrote poetry, plays, and stories for children under his own name. In 1796, Lamb's sister, Mary Ann, went mad and attacked her parents with a knife, killing her mother and wounding her father. She was placed in an institution for a time, but was eventually released into her brother's guardianship. This incident, and later periods when she was institutionalized again, had a great effect on Lamb, who had always been very close to his sister. Charles and Mary Ann Lamb collaborated on several books, including Poetry for Children, Mrs. Leicester's School, and Beauty and the Beast. Probably their best-known collaboration, however, was Tales from Shakespeare, a series of summaries of the plots from 20 Shakespearean plays, which was published in 1807. Charles Lamb died in 1834.

Mary Lamb collaborated with her brother, Charles Lamb on many projects but Tales of Shakespeare series are the most famous.

Sylvan Saul Barnet was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 11, 1926. During World War II, he served in the Army for two years. He received a bachelor's degree in English from New York University in 1948 and a master's degree in 1950 and a doctorate in 1954 from Harvard University. For the next three decades, he taught freshman writing and literature at Tufts University. He wrote or edited numerous textbooks including An Introduction to Literature, A Short Guide to Writing About Literature, A Short Guide to Writing About Art, The Study of Literature: A Handbook of Critical Essays and Terms, and Critical Thinking, Reading and Writing: A Brief Guide to Argument. In the early 1960s, he decided that his students at Tufts University needed an edition of Shakespeare with each play in a separate volume including an introduction and study aids. He presented the idea to editors at the New American Library. The editors approved of the idea and Barnet became the general editor of the Signet Classic Shakespeare series. He was the co-author with William Burto of Zen Ink Paintings, which was published in 1982. He died of cancer on January 11, 2016 at the age of 89.

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