A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Oct 18, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 394 pages
103 Reviews

An intimate history of Shakespeare, following him through a single year -- 1599 -- that changed not only his fortunes but the course of literature

How was Shakespeare transformed from being a talented poet and playwright to become one of the greatest writers who ever lived? In this one exhilarating year we follow what he reads and writes, what he sees, and whom he works with as he invests in the new Globe Theatre and creates four of his most famous plays -- Henry the Fifth, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and, most remarkably, Hamlet.

James Shapiro illuminates both Shakespeare's staggering achievement and what Elizabethans experienced in the course of 1599: sending off an army to crush an Irish rebellion, weathering an Armada threat from Spain, gambling on the fledgling East India Company, and waiting to see who would succeed their aging and childless queen.

This book brings the news and intrigue of the times together with a wonderful evocation of how Shakespeare worked as an actor, businessman, and playwright. The result is an exceptionally immediate and gripping account of an inspiring moment in history.


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AMAZING scholarship. - Goodreads
Well researched and well written. - Goodreads
Exquisite sleuthing and scholarship, deftly written. - Goodreads
Fantastically researched and a beautiful read. - Goodreads

Review: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599

User Review  - Mak Horner - Goodreads

Excellent book which gave me a real insight into Shakespeare Read full review

Review: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599

User Review  - Ellie Sorota - Goodreads

I'd give this book one star for my personal enjoyment, but I didn't finish it, so it wouldn't be fair. There is a lot of interesting material in this book, but with so much speculation I wasn't ... Read full review

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Prologue I
A Battle of Wills
A Great Blow in Ireland
Burial at Westminster
A Sermon at Richmond
Band of Brothers
The Invisible Armada
The Passionate Pilgrim
Simple Truth Suppressed
The Forest of Arden
Things Dying Things Newborn
Essays and Soliloquies
Second Thoughts

The Globe Rises
Book Burning
Is This a Holiday?
Bibliographical Essay

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Popular passages

Page 116 - When we mean to build, We first survey the plot, then draw the model ; And when we see the figure of the house, Then must we rate the cost of the erection ; Which if we find outweighs ability, What do we then but draw anew the model In fewer offices, or at least desist To build at all...
Page 314 - tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now ; if it be not now, yet it will come : the readiness is all : Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows, what is't to leave betimes ?
Page 60 - Out of every corner of the woods and glens they came creeping forth upon their hands, for their legs could not bear them; they looked like anatomies of death, they spake like ghosts crying out of their graves...
Page 154 - Many a time and oft Have you climbed up to walls and battlements, To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops, Your infants in your arms, and there have sat The livelong day, with patient expectation, To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome.
Page 16 - As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and Tragedy among the Latins, so Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage...
Page 82 - Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named, And rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall live this day, and see old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say ' To-morrow is Saint Crispian.' Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, And say, ' These wounds I had on Crispin's day.

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About the author (2005)

James Shapiro, aprofessor at Columbia University in New York, is the author of Rival Playwrights, Shakespeare and the Jews, and Oberammergau.

Bibliographic information