Catalogue


Shakespeare : a life /
Park Honan.
imprint
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1998.
description
xvi, 479 p. : ill.
ISBN
0198117922
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1998.
isbn
0198117922
catalogue key
2300445
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Park Honan is a biographer and Emeritus Professor at the School of English, University of Leeds.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1999-02-15:
Honan (English, emeritus, Univ. of Leeds), author of biographies of Jane Austen, Matthew Arnold, and Robert Browning, aims to create the most up-to-date and accurate narrative of the bard's life yet penned. Dismissive of other writers who, in his view, have imagined moments and motives in Shakespeare's life, he tries to rely on documentary and contextualized fact. The result is a blow-by-blow account of Shakespeare's life from birth to death, with some attention paid to the historical, political, and social world Shakespeare inhabited. Extensive notes and a study of the biographical writings on Shakespeare to date conclude the work. At times this biography is overwritten for its target audience, the general public, and it can be slow reading. However, as the most up-to-date biography of Shakespeare, and certainly one of the most complete linear narratives, it is useful and therefore recommended for academic and larger public libraries.‘Neal Wyatt, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1999-07-01:
A seasoned biographer, Honan (emeritus, Univ. of Leeds, UK, and author of Matthew Arnold, CH, Dec'81, and Jane Austen, CH, Oct'88, among other works) argues that previous biographers have not connected the details of Shakespeare's life closely enough to local conditions in Tudor England and have instead treated Shakespeare's genius separately or projected modern sensibilities on an Elizabethan figure. For example, Honan points out, even one of Shakespeare's foremost biographers, Samuel Schoenbaum, errs in suggesting that 26-year-old Ann Hathaway was "long in the tooth" when she married William: in fact, historians have shown that 26 was about average marrying age for women in Hathaway's part of the country. Honan has steeped himself in the scholarship on Shakespeare's plays and presents his own interpretations of them as well as the most complete biography to date. Although one often hears the claim that not much is known about Shakespeare's life, Honan observes that details about Shakespeare's family and affairs continue to be discovered, thereby implying that his own work will be superseded one day. Honan includes useful appendixes on the Arden and Shakespeare families and on the Shakespeare biographical tradition. Recommended for readers at all levels. C. Rollyson Bernard M. Baruch College, CUNY
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1999-01-18:
So little evidence of Shakespeare's life exists that biographers have had to resort to sometimes far-fetched guesswork to flesh out a vivid chronicle of his days. Many of them would benefit from the healthy dose of common sense evident in Honan's latest critical study. As a leading biographer of Robert Browning and Jane Austen, Honan brings a sensible eye to the Sisyphean task of sifting through what is now called the "Shakespeare Industry." Synthesizing documentary material on Renaissance England with the latest scholarship‘be it Helen Vendler on the sonnets or Leeds Barroll on politics and plague in Elizabethan London‘Honan attempts to link, perhaps a little too closely, the Bard's life experiences with his literary representations. In an examination of Shakespeare's schooling, Honan refutes the oft-cited remark that he had "small Latin and less Greek" and finds analogies to his student years in such plays as The Merry Wives of Windsor and Hamlet. Honan vibrantly depicts Renaissance urban life, where "the theatre [was] a quick-paced, disenchanting funfair; with jigs, dancing, dumb-shows and clowns' acts interlaced with drama." Despite his insistence on historical context, however, Honan reserves most of his critical energies for the poet's high tragedies. In Hamlet, "pathos arises from his hero's idealization of a prior normalcy"; Othello contains a "flawless structure of feeling"; and Antony and Cleopatra investigates "non-literal truth, in myth, fable, and implicit connections between historical epochs." Studies of Shakespeare frequently reflect hotly contested trends in literary criticism; this biography's value, by contrast, lies in its responsibly researched, unflinching look at what is indisputably the artist's real achievement: "Far from soothing an audience," Honan writes, "Shakespeare depicts human nature in ways that are at once truthful and deeply troubling."(Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
'a meticulously researched ... authoritative biography ... it is lucid, enjoyable and reliable in excluding (exuding?) colourful, imaginative reconstructions and elaborate psychological theories which strain credulity and are less exciting than newly found factual truth.' Patrick Richards, Day by Day, 14/12/00.
'a meticulously researched ... authoritative biography ... it is lucid,enjoyable and reliable in excluding (exuding?) colourful, imaginativereconstructions and elaborate psychological theories which strain credulity andare less exciting than newly found factual truth.'Patrick Richards, Day by Day, 14/12/00.
'his biography of Shakespeare is clearly the product of a lifelong engagement with his works and of a thorough study of the documentary evidence and the life of the time ... others have told the story of Shakespeare's life, but none of them with the fullness of detail, the scholarship, theliterary skill and the sheer readability that Honan brings to his task ... this is now the best available life of Shakespeare.'Stanley Wells, The Observer, 18/10/98
'Honan has gone through town and church registers with a keen eye and a happy wit ... an always interesting book.'Peter Ackroyd, The Times, 22/10/98
'impressive new biography ... Honan's particular flair is for the vivid dramatic reconstruction of small incidents recorded only fleetingly by contemporary documents ... a highly readable book which is more reliable about more aspects of Shakespeare's life and career than any other currentlyon the market ...'Michael Dobson, London Review of Books, 07/01/99
'It does bring us closer to the world that Shakespeare lived in ... This is a timely, well-written and accessible biography of Shakespeare, which is exceptional for its lucid descriptions of the landscapes and locales that Shakespeare knew and maybe wrote about.'EMLS, 6.2, Sept 2000
'It is fascinating stuff, a wealth of minutiae'Max Davidson, Travel section, The Daily Telegraph, 22/05/99.
'Park Honan's Shakespeare: a Life is a sober, searching, coolly-judged narrative, with a strong spirit of place in its evocations of Stratford and London, guarded about the relationship between Stratford's life and works, yet also alert to the mystery at the core of the man. The book eschewssensationalism, even to the point of austerity, but can flare into sudden, oddly moving impassioned passages. It is built to last.'English Studies, Vol.81 No.1
'Park Honan's very readable 'Shakespeare's Life' has the latest facts on the Bard's life.'Plays and Players Applause, Dec 98-Jan 99
'The opening chapters... bring the Stratford of those old days to vivid and pertinent life... Honan's close quarrying of theatrical records yields many suggestive nuggets.'Eric Griffiths, TLS 01/09/2000
'This engrossing life, using a wealth of new evidence to illustrate personal experiences and artistic development of the greatest English writer, is incomparably vivid and credible ... I know no biography of Shakespeare to rival this one.' Patrick Richards, Day by Day, 14/12/00.
'This engrossing life, using a wealth of new evidence to illustratepersonal experiences and artistic development of the greatest English writer, isincomparably vivid and credible ... I know no biography of Shakespeare to rivalthis one.'Patrick Richards, Day by Day, 14/12/00.
this is now the best available life of Shakespeare.
'It does bring us closer to the world that Shakespeare lived in ... This is a timely, well-written and accessible biography of Shakespeare, which is exceptional for its lucid descriptions of the landscapes and locales that Shakespeare knew and maybe wrote about.'EMLS, 6.2, Sept 2000'a meticulously researched ... authoritative biography ... it is lucid, enjoyable and reliable in excluding (exuding?) colourful, imaginative reconstructions and elaborate psychological theories which strain credulity and are less exciting than newly found factual truth.'Patrick Richards, Day by Day, 14/12/00.'This engrossing life, using a wealth of new evidence to illustrate personal experiences and artistic development of the greatest English writer, is incomparably vivid and credible ... I know no biography of Shakespeare to rival this one.'Patrick Richards, Day by Day, 14/12/00.'Honan has gone through town and church registers with a keen eye and a happy wit ... an always interesting book.'Peter Ackroyd, The Times, 22/10/98'It is fascinating stuff, a wealth of minutiae'Max Davidson, Travel section, The Daily Telegraph, 22/05/99.'Park Honan's very readable 'Shakespeare's Life' has the latest facts on the Bard's life.'Plays and Players Applause, Dec 98-Jan 99'his biography of Shakespeare is clearly the product of a lifelong engagement with his works and of a thorough study of the documentary evidence and the life of the time ... others have told the story of Shakespeare's life, but none of them with the fullness of detail, the scholarship, the literary skill and the sheer readability that Honan brings to his task ... this is now the best available life of Shakespeare.'Stanley Wells, The Observer, 18/10/98'The opening chapters... bring the Stratford of those old days to vivid and pertinent life... Honan's close quarrying of theatrical records yields many suggestive nuggets.'Eric Griffiths, TLS 01/09/2000'impressive new biography ... Honan's particular flair is for the vivid dramatic reconstruction of small incidents recorded only fleetingly by contemporary documents ... a highly readable book which is more reliable about more aspects of Shakespeare's life and career than any other currently on the market ...'Michael Dobson, London Review of Books, 07/01/99'Park Honan's Shakespeare: a Life is a sober, searching, coolly-judged narrative, with a strong spirit of place in its evocations of Stratford and London, guarded about the relationship between Stratford's life and works, yet also alert to the mystery at the core of the man. The book eschews sensationalism, even to the point of austerity, but can flare into sudden, oddly moving impassioned passages. It is built to last.'English Studies, Vol.81 No.1'this fascinating and scholarly book'The Lakes Leader, 21/04/99.'serious and worthy. Its strength is that it is rooted in the social history of the times ...'Ralph Berry, Contemporary Review, May 1999.'In this complete, accurate, and up-to-date narrative of Shakespeare's life, Park Honan uses a wealth of fresh information to cast new light on Shakespeare's development as an artist, dramatically changing our perceptions of the actor, poet and playwright.'Publishing News
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, January 1999
Publishers Weekly, January 1999
Booklist, February 1999
Library Journal, February 1999
Los Angeles Times, February 1999
New York Times Book Review, February 1999
Choice, July 1999
New York Times Book Review, April 2000
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
This biography of William Shakespeare aims to alter the reader's perceptions of the actor, poet, & playwright, examining his relationships & attitude towards women, illuminating his needs & concerns, & explores the world of the playing companies.
Long Description
In the last ten years, virtually every previously known fact about Shakespeare has been modified by new research. Park Honan draws on this new information to dramatically alter our perceptions of the actor, poet, and playwright. Here is virtually all that can be factually known or reasonably speculated about Shakespeare's life. Readers will find a vivid picture of what Shakespeare's childhood might have been like in the small English town of Stratford, which had but a dozen streets in 1560. We meet his father, John Shakespeare, the glovemaker of Henley Street, who rose to the office of High Bailiff and Justice of the Peace before he was beset by financial difficulties. There is a fascinating portrait of London and of the life of an Elizabethan actor (a neophyte Shakespeare may have had to learn as many as a hundred small parts per season). Honan casts new light on the young poet's relationships--his early courtship of Anne Hathaway, their marriage, his attitudes to women such as Jennet Davenant, Marie Mountjoy, and his own daughters--illuminating Shakespeare's needs, habits, passions, and concerns. The author shows in fresh detail that Shakespeare was well acquainted with violent crime and murder in daily life. And he also examines the world of the playing companies--the power of patronage, theatrical conditions, and personal rivalries--to reveal the relationship between the man and the writing. Park Honan's Shakespeare casts new light on a complex and fascinating life, illuminating Shakespeare's extraordinary development into the greatest dramatist of his or any age.
Long Description
In the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date narrative of Shakespeare's life ever written, Park Honan uses a wealth of fresh information to dramatically alter our perceptions of the actor, poet, and playwright.
Main Description
In the last ten years, virtually every previously known fact about Shakespeare has been modified by new research. Park Honan draws on this new information to dramatically alter our perceptions of the actor, poet, and playwright. Here is virtually all that can be factually known or reasonably speculated about Shakespeare's life. Readers will find a vivid picture of what Shakespeare's childhood might have been like in the small English town of Stratford, which had but a dozen streets in 1560. We meet his father, John Shakespeare, the glovemaker of Henley Street, who rose to the office of High Bailiff and Justice of the Peace before he was beset by financial difficulties. There is a fascinating portrait of London and of the life of an Elizabethan actor (a neophyte Shakespeare may have had to learn as many as a hundred small parts per season). Honan casts new light on the young poet's relationships--his early courtship of Anne Hathaway, their marriage, his attitudes to women such as Jennet Davenant, Marie Mountjoy, and his own daughters--illuminating Shakespeare's needs, habits, passions, and concerns. The author shows in fresh detail that Shakespeare was well acquainted with violent crime and murder in daily life. And he also examines the world of the playing companies--the power of patronage, theatrical conditions, and personal rivalries--to reveal the relationship between the man and the writing. Park Honan'sShakespearecasts new light on a complex and fascinating life, illuminating Shakespeare's extraordinary development into the greatest dramatist of his or any age.
Main Description
In the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date narrative of Shakespeare's life ever written, Park Honan uses a wealth of fresh information to alter dramatically our perceptions of the actor, poet, and playwright. The young poet's relationships, his early courtship of Anne Hathaway, their marriage, his attitudes to women such as Jennet Davenant, Marie Mountjoy, and his own daughters, are seen in a new light, illuminating Shakespeare's needs, habits, passions andconcerns.
Main Description
In the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date narrative of Shakespeare's life ever written, Park Honan uses a wealth of fresh information to dramatically alter our perceptions of the actor, poet, and playwright. The young poet's relationships, his early courtship of Anne Hathaway, their marriage, his attitudes to women such as Jennet Davenant, Marie Mountjoy, and his own daughters, are seen in a new light, illuminating Shakespeare's needs, habits, passions and concerns. Park Honan examines the world of theplaying companies -- the power of patronage, theatrical conditions, and personal rivalries -- to reveal the relationship between the man and the writing, and using previously unpublished material explores the causes of Shakespeare's success; Stratford childhood, his parents' capabilities, and hispreparations for a London career. Shakespeare: A Life casts new light on the complexity and fascination of Shakespeare's life and his extraordinary development as an artist.
Publisher Fact Sheet
Park Honan uses a wealth of fresh information to dramatically alter our perceptions of the actor, poet, & playwright.
Unpaid Annotation
In the last ten years, nearly every previously known fact about Shakespeare has been modified by new research. This book draws on such new, crucial information to dramatically alter our perceptions of the actor, poet, and playwright. Honan tells us virtually all that can be factually known or reasonably speculated about Shakespeare's life -- from his childhood to his deathbed. We encounter fascinating portraits of the Bard's London (wherein violence and even murder were a part of daily life) and of his days as a neophyte actor (he may have learned as many as 100 small parts per season). Honan casts new light on the young poet's relationships -- his early courtship of Anne Hathaway, their marriage, his attitudes toward women such as Jennet Davenant, Marie Mountjoy, and his own daughters -- illuminating Shakespeare's needs, habits, passions, and concerns. He also examines the world of Elizabethan playing companies -- the power of patronage, theatrical conditions, and personal rivalries -- to reveal the relationship between the man and his writing.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. vii
Introductionp. ix
A Note on Conventions Used in the Textp. xvi
A Stratford Youth
Birth
Stratford
Master Bretchgirdle's arrival
The chamberlain's first sonp. 3
Mother of the Child
Mary Shakespeare at Henley Street
'Hic incepit pestis'
Air and musicp. 11
John Shakespeare's Fortunes
In the bailiff's family
Debts and a downfallp. 25
To Grammar School
A classroom
Rhetoric at dawn
The Lord of Misrulep. 43
Opportunity and Need
'In the Countrey'
Upon a promontory
Returningp. 60
Love and Early Marriage
Anne Hathaway and the Shottery fields
A licence for lovers
After Davy Jones's showp. 72
Actor and Poet of the London Stage
To London--and the Amphitheatre Players
Streets and conduits
Hirelings, repertory, and poets
Crab the dogp. 95
Attitudes
Marlowe, Kyd, and Shoreditch
'I am the sea': Titus Andronicus and the Shrew
The white rose of Yorkp. 120
The City in September
Plague and prospects
The 'waspish little worme' and 'upstart Crow'
Shagbag, The Comedy of Errors, and Love's Labour's Lostp. 145
A Patron, Poems, and Company Work
To the 'Earle of Southampton'
The sonneteer
Politics and King Johnp. 169
A Servant of the Lord Chamberlain
Sharing with the Burbages
Dreams and the doors of breath
Falstaff, Hal, and a Henriadp. 196
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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