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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: Best Shakespeare Biography
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1028  Monday, 15 April 2002

[1]     From:   John Ciccarelli <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Apr 2002 11:07:31 -0400
        Subj:   Shakespeare Biography

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Apr 2002 08:27:43 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography

[3]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Apr 2002 11:22:07 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography

[4]     From:   Al Magary <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Apr 2002 15:57:29 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography

[5]     From:   Takashi Kozuka <
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        Date:   Saturday, 13 Apr 2002 22:48:30 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: Best Shakespeare Biography

[6]     From:   Sophie Masson <
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        Date:   Sunday, 14 Apr 2002 21:34:55 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography

[7]     From:   Tad Davis <
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        Date:   Sunday, 14 Apr 2002 11:54:21 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ciccarelli <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Apr 2002 11:07:31 -0400
Subject:        Shakespeare Biography

My favorite Shakespeare biography has to be Ian Wilson's "Shakespeare:
The Evidence."  An easy read that gathers together volumes of direct and
surrounding information concerning WS and various figures around him
from fellow actors to the aristocracy.  It weaves events in his life and
the writing of the plays into political and social landscape of the
time.  While a good deal can not be proven with any certainty, his
narrative provides plausible answers and a "real-life" feel for WS as a
man of theater who was shaped by the times he lived in.  Can't go wrong
with E.K. Chambers either.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Apr 2002 08:27:43 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography

> ...my hand reaches
> for Sam Schoenbaum's _Shakespeare's Lives_.

Complemented by his *Documentary Life*.

After those two, my vote goes to Katherine Duncan-Jones' *Ungentle
Shakespeare*, as it is fun to read, contains a wealth of fascinating
trivia, and while she is open to some of the more controversial
theories, she retains a gingerly skepticism.

Cheers,
Karen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Apr 2002 11:22:07 -0700
Subject: 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography

Marchette Chute's "Shakespeare of London." 1949, but still excellent.
Out of print, but available on Abebooks.com for $1.75.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Apr 2002 15:57:29 -0700
Subject: 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography

Another vote for Schoenbaum's _Shakespeare's Lives_.  I read the first
edition, dipped into it often, then read the second as if it were new.
The only other biography I hold in such high standing is Ellmann's
_James Joyce_.

Al Magary

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Saturday, 13 Apr 2002 22:48:30 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        Re: Best Shakespeare Biography

Bill wonders which biography is the 'best'. I'm often asked the same
question. I would say that it depends on *what purpose* one reads a
biography for and *how much imagination* he or she believes a biographer
is allowed to use.

Best wishes,
Takashi Kozuka

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sophie Masson <
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Date:           Sunday, 14 Apr 2002 21:34:55 +1000
Subject: 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography

I very much like Park Honan's Shakespeare: A Life. Very readable,
judicious and packed with information; and in general accords with my
own feelings!  Which is why we like one bio over another, isn't it?

Sophie Masson
Author site: http://www.northnet.com.au/~smasson

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tad Davis <
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Date:           Sunday, 14 Apr 2002 11:54:21 -0400
Subject: 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1022 Best Shakespeare Biography

I'm not a scholar, but Shakespeare biography has been a hobby of mine
for 25 years. The first ones I read were by Anthony Burgess and
Marchette Chute, and I still credit Chute's biography for sparking my
enthusiasm for the subject. "Shakespeare's Lives" followed soon after,
and it became (for me) an introduction to the process of scholarly
research and an education in how to see, and describe, what's actually
there -- as opposed to what I thought MIGHT be there. I'd still put it
at the top of the list, along with Schoenbaum's "Compact Documentary
Life."

Of recent biographies, I also enjoy Park Honan and Katherine
Duncan-Jones.  Duncan-Jones is particularly provocative (which, I think,
is what she set out to do) and full of matter.

A wonderful project for someone with time on their hands: revising E. K.
Chambers' "Facts and Problems".

Tad Davis

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