Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
999 Challenge Category: Audiobooks (or Nonfiction)
Bill Bryson was one my favorite new authors from 2008, so I've been meaning to read more of his books. I was inspired by this review to move up this title in my 999 Challenge.
Not too much is known about Shakespeare beyond the basic facts of his life: where he was born, when he was baptized, when and to whom he was married, that he wrote several plays (and acted in them, too), when he died. What is not known is so very enticing: what happened in those years leading up to his arrival on the playwright scene in London? Which play was written first? How large was his vocabulary?
Bryson explores what (and how) we know what we do about Shakespeare, as well as what we do not. You gain an appreciation for the immense scholarship that has gone into trying to find out anything about people from this time period, and get a sense that even what we do know is a pretty incredible amount of information for its time. The audio version read by the author is excellent for getting a sense of his dry sense of humor, seen at its best when discussing the various far-reaching theories about Shakespeare and his plays. A short but excellent biography. 4.5 stars.
Cross-posted at the 999 Challenge.