Who was Shakespeare and how did he live? Combining fact, tradition and imagination, Shakespeare's many lives are told in nine possible ways.
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Graham Holderness is Professor of English at the University of Hertfordshire, author or editor of numerous studies in early modern and modern literature and drama, and General Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Critical Survey. He is also a creative writer, novelist and award-winning poet.
Introduction \ 1. LIFE ONE: Shakespeare the Writer: Story: 'The Shakespeare Code'\ 2. LIFE TWO: Shakespeare the Player: Memoir: 'Master Shakespeare's Instructions to the Actors'\ 3. LIFE THREE: Shakespeare the Businessman: Story: 'Best for Winter' \ 4. LIFE FOUR: Shakespeare in Love: 'Husband, I come': Memoir: 'Shakespeare's Ring: First Circle' \ 5. LIFE FIVE: Shakespeare in Love: 'Fair Friend': Story: 'The Adventure of Shakespeare's Ring' \ 6. LIFE SIX: Shakespeare in Love: 'A Female Evil': Story: 'Full Circle' \ 7. LIFE SEVEN: Shakespeare the Butcher Boy: Memoir: 'Some further account of the life &c. of Mr William Shakespear' \ 8. LIFE EIGHT: Shakespeare the Catholic: Story: 'He dyed a papist' \ 9. LIFE NINE: Shakespeare's Face: Fable: 'An Account of a Voyage to Bardolo' \ Index
'...[A]n interesting literary biography in which Holderness uses a combination of critical essays and fictional narratives to explore nine aspects of Shakespeare's life and career. "The Adventure of Shakespeare's Ring" is a pastiche that has Holmes, Watson, Lord Alfred Douglas, and Oscar Wilde examining the possibility that Shakespeare was a homosexual.' - Peter E. Blau, Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press Newsletter 'Holderness brilliantly shows how biography is built of a writer's desire to create a coherent life picture, one that explains a particular view of Shakespeare...The book is immensely thoughtful and written so clearly that it will engage al readers.' - Choice Magazine As a biographical study, this is fascinating for the way in which it looks at possible interpretations of a long-bygone life... any devotee of the Bard, or even of Tudor social history, will certainly find much to savour here. http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/reviews/index.php?title=Nine_Lives_of_William_Shakespeare_by_Graham_Holderness -- Bookbag Named book of the week on ReadySteadyBook. ... this book takes a novel approach by presenting nine different theories about the Bard's possible lives. -- The Catholic Herald Author article in Around the Globe. Nine Lives belongs to the Shakespeare Now! series, which is defined by its editors as "a rallying cry... for aesthetic immediacy" on the "premise that art is as much as subject as an object, less like aggregated facts and more like a fascinating person or persons". Graham Holderness's fictional experiments serve that argument in that they abandon the posture of objectivity, but more essentially in their enjoyment of the escape. He is scrupulous about the facts, but denies that "the more data we possess, the more solid and dependable will be our understanding of the life", and instead offers Shakespeare biography as an exercise in negative capability: a form of storytelling which knows that, beyond interpretation, "Shakespeare keeps his silence". -- Times Literary Supplement Though always displaying allegiance to the traditional Shakespeare story, Holderness critiques the biographies in useful ways and shows just how weak and tenuous many of their assertions are... a dazzling satire. -- The Brooklyn Rail 'Required reading for anyone interested in Shakespeare's life or in how literary biography gets written. There's no better place to turn for distinguishing facts and traditions from more imaginative accounts of how Shakespeare became Shakespeare. Graham Holderness is a terrific guide and a talented writer.' -- James Shapiro, author of 1599 and Professor of English at Columbia University "Like Prospero, Graham Holderness has conjured up a world -- inks and quill pens, lost manuscripts, sheep-shearing fairs, courtship rituals, seventeenth-century acting techniques, religious rites, business dealings. To name a few. There have of course been hundreds of biographies of William Shakespeare down the centuries, but none so breathtakingly nimble and adroit as this one. Shakespeare has long been a battleground between what can be historically verified ( not much ) and what in the end is simply speculation ( of which there has been a very great deal ). Holderness -- who is saturated in his subject -- disentangles fact from fiction, but then starts to weave beautiful new tapestries of his own. This is the best and most enjoyably imaginative book on Shakespeare since Anthony Burgess' Nothing Like the Sun -- high praise, as Burgess' only rival was the chapter about Shakespeare in James Joyce's Ulysses. Were he to bound back from beyond the grave, this is the volume Shakespeare himself would most love reading." -- Roger Lewis, author of The Life & Death of Peter Sellers and Seasonal Suicide Notes ... takes a fresh look at the facts, the traditions, and the possible relations between his life and the works that life created. http://perthshakespeareclub.blogspot.com/ -- Perth Shakespeare Club website 'Graham Holderness knows the power of the Shakespeare myth and its fictions... in this volume, he offers a twist... Recognising the flimsy factual basis for Shakespeare biography, he draws on wit and wordplay to flesh out a fiction more palatable than the po-faced fantasies of the scholarly biographers. The nine Shakespeares on show here - writer, player, butcher boy, businessman, husband, friend, lover, Catholic and portrait - are each lovingly dissected before being painstakingly reassembled' -- Times Higher Education Supplement Posts by author Graham Holderness on 'Blogging Shakespeare'. http://bloggingshakespeare.com/nine-lives-of-william-shakespeare http://bloggingshakespeare.com/queering-shakespeare-and-sherlock-holmes
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