Cover image for Shakespeare
Wood, Michael, 1948-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
352 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
"Published to accompany the television series, In search of Shakespeare, produced by Maya Vision and first broadcast on BBC2 in 2003"--T.p. verso.

First published in Britain by BBC Worldwide Ltd. 2003.
Roots -- A child of state -- Education: school and beyond -- John Shakespeare's secret -- Marriage and children -- The lost years -- London: fame -- The duty of poets -- 'A hell of time' -- Shakespeare in love? -- Shakespeare's dream of England -- Ambition: the globe -- The theatre of the world -- Gunpowder, treason and plot -- Lost worlds, new worlds -- Tempests are kind.
Added Uniform Title:
In search of Shakespeare (Television program)

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Clearfield Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Lackawanna Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Orchard Park Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
City of Tonawanda Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
East Aurora Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Lancaster Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library PR2894 .W66 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



A brilliant piece of historical investigative journalism, Shakespeare is a fresh telling of the playwright's life based on a wide range of newly discovered sources, such as police and torture records. Rather than approaching Shakespeare as an isolated genius, Wood argues that he was very much a product of his place and time--a period of upheaval that straddled the medieval and modern worlds. It was a time of great tensions, marked by murderous plots and purges of the Elizabethan police state, from the Somerville Plot and the Essex rebellion to the Gunpowder Plot, which can now be shown to have touched Shakespeare and his family directly. If we wonder why Shakespeare was so obsessed with violence, and especially the violence of the state, there is an answer: This was Shakespeare's world.Furthermore, Wood reveals new and surprising evidence about: Shakespeare's Catholic faith, his work, and his attitudes on sex and on race. In doing so he reinstates the image of Shakespeare as a thinking artist, his work based firmly in the religion, politics, culture and class antagonisms of his day. Shakespeare plunges us headlong into the turbulent life and times of William Shakespeare. Presented in a beautifully designed package, with over 100 four-color and black-and-white illustrations, the result is a more convincing and complete portrait of the artist than was previously thought possible.

Author Notes

Michael Wood is an acclaimed author and TV presenter. A broadcaster and film-maker of extraordinary range, Wood has over eighty documentary films to his name, including In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great , In Search of the Trojan War , and In Search of Shakespeare . Educated at Oxford, Wood is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Omnivorous filmmaker, author, and historian Wood devours yet another monumental subject in this illustrated biography of William Shakespeare. One might expect a cursory run-through of familiar schoolbook legends, but not so--Wood has crafted a book of substance and originality. Combining a wealth of scholarship and a bit of his own sleuthing, Wood presents a portrait of Shakespeare as very much a child of Stratford, a poet for whom the people of the village and countryside of his youth were always a part of his conscious, creative life. We are also given a convincing portrait of the artist's struggles in the unpredictable world of the Elizabethan theater. Wood does not shy away from amateur speculation, either--as when he offers up his own candidate for Shakespeare's mysterious Dark Lady. A highly readable, informative, and artfully illustrated volume for bardolaters and common readers alike. --Trygve Thoreson Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The companion volume to Wood's four-part PBS documentary, to air in early 2004, this life of Shakespeare has all the vividness of a good television profile, backed up with a keen and contentious historical perspective on his turbulent era. Like many of the Bard's biographers who want to surpass the few official documents and brief contemporary testaments that form the official record, Wood's lively portrait is half hypothesis and half argument, embellished with speculative digressions. Addressing both Shakespeare's artistic universality and his religious beliefs, Wood considers him a Catholic with a capital "c" as well as a small one. Wood doesn't have new evidence to support this necessarily, but he does delve into the Warwickshire region's history as a flashpoint of crypto-Catholicism, which may have touched Shakespeare's family and their neighbors and distant relatives. As an old medieval hand, Wood (In Search of the Dark Ages) also positions Shakespeare on the cusp of the modern age, but with a firm background in the old traditions. He's also superb at bringing together the Warwickshire idiom and rural nomenclature that run through the plays. Wood brings 16th-century London to raucous life-even if his view of the Elizabethan era concentrates on its grim politics at the cost of its cultural renaissance. Throughout, Shakespeare is treated as a living person inhabiting his time (although sometimes Wood draws parallels too close, such as between the Diggers' revolt and Coriolanus). The absence of source notes will frustrate serious readers, but the copious color illustrations and lively readability will satisfy others until the TV documentary airs. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Applying techniques of investigative journalism and referencing newly uncovered archival evidence, Wood (fellow, Royal Historical Society; In Search of the Trojan War) offers a forceful portrait of Shakespeare and his world, filling in some of the tantalizing blanks. He identifies the "dark lady" as Emilia Lanier and provides evidence indicating that Shakespeare and his family retained their Catholic faith and risked the dangers of prosecution. Wood clearly identifies those points at which primary evidence disappears and at which he begins to base his conclusions on materials from the social, political, and cultural history of Shakespeare's era. While much of the material is based on the research of other scholars, Wood's work includes enough new detail to merit consideration for purchase. It is also handsomely packaged, with more than 100 full-color and black-and-white illustrations. Recommended for public libraries and for consideration by academic libraries. [Shakespeare will be published to accompany a four-part PBS documentary.-Ed.]-Shana C. Fair, Ohio Univ. Lib., Zanesville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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