A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

Version: Abridged
Author: James Shapiro
Narrator: James Shapiro
Genres: Biography & Memoir, Shakespeare
Publisher: HarperAudio
Published In: October 2005
# of Units: 6 CDs
Length: 7 hours
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An intimate history of Shakespeare, following him through a single year that changed not only his fortunes but the course of literature.

How did Shakespeare go 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 who he works with as he invests in the new Globe Theatre and creates four of his most famous plays -- Henry V, 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 a fledgling East India Company, and waiting to see who will 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.

This audio includes a selection of scenes from Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Hamlet featuring performances by Vanessa Redgrave, Paul Scofield, Ian Holm, and many more.

Reviews (1)

Great contextual info

Written by Anonymous on July 24th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I really enjoyed this book since I enjoy Shakespeare. I felt that Shapiro did a fine job connecting the plays of 1599 to the historical context surrounding their writing and performance. The CD is also very easy to listen to although Shapiro is clearly a scholar and not a public speaker. Sometimes I find some historical books a little too densely packed with facts so that you can't keep everything straight, but this was perfect (at least for me).

Author Details

Author Details

Shapiro, James

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