Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 296.  Monday, 2 November 1992.
From: 		Tad Davis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, Nov. 2, 1992, 09:48:01 -0500
Subject: 	Dennis Kay's New Biography
In my frequently-enacted role of cheerleader, I would like to point out
that Dennis Kay's new biography of Shakespeare is widely available. It's
not as allusive as Russell Fraser's two-volume life; on the other hand, the
sentences are less densely populated, making it a less strenuous reading
adventure, and his commentary on the plays seems targeted more to people
who either haven't read every play or (like me) can't remember every line
of every play. His evocation of Elizabethan London, always a set-piece in
biographies of Shakespeare, is particularly well done. He is careful to
draw a boundary between fact and speculation, something Fraser often fails
to do. Although I haven't tested it on my friends yet, I believe it's far
more suitable as a "general" biography than Fraser's or even Schoenbaum's.
(Schoenbaum is so scrupulous about sticking to his theme, the documentary
record, that ordinary "fans" -- as opposed to fanatics -- can be
overwhelmed. But his insistence on hard evidence is an acknowledged
influence on Kay, even when it sometimes spoils the story.)
There are, unfortunately, a number of printing errors. One severe error
seems to be the omission of a whole sentence, if not a whole passage,
between page 27 and 28. Page 27 ends with a discussion of Holy Trinity
Church, and the phrase: "In the pre-Reformation..." Page 28 begins: "of
Worcester, who secured for the townsfolk the right to hold fairs..." The
change of subject, besides the obvious garbled syntax, is what makes me
think there is more missing than just a word or two.
Tad Davis
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