What Was Shakespeare Really Like?
Author(s): Stanley Wells, Foreword by Stephen Fry
Publication Date: 14 September 2023
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Sir Stanley Wells is one of the world's greatest authorities on William Shakespeare. Here he brings a lifetime of learning and reflection to bear on some of the most tantalising questions about the poet and dramatist that there are. How did he think, feel, and work? What were his relationships like? What did he believe about death? What made him laugh? This freshly thought and immensely engaging study wrestles with fundamental debates concerning Shakespeare's personality and life. The mysteries of how Shakespeare lived, whom and how he loved, how he worked, how he produced some of the greatest and most abidingly popular works in the history of world literature and drama, have fascinated readers for centuries. This concise, crystalline book conjures illuminating insights to reveal Shakespeare as he was. Wells brings the writer and dramatist alive, in all his fascinating humanity, for readers of today.
'It is, I think, incontestable to claim that no single person in history has done more for the study and appreciation of Shakespeare than Stanley Wells. This book asks four beguilingly simple questions which result in deeply fascinating and exciting journeys into Shakespeare's mind and practice. As you read, you are very likely to exclaim, as I did, 'Why the hell didn't my English teacher talk like this? Actors, directors, producers, lecturers, teachers, students, and all who want to know and understand more will hug this book to them.' Stephen Fry
'If this book wasn't short I wouldn't trust it. There is very little to go on in trying to find Shakespeare the man, and Stanley Wells doesn't pad anything out with wishful speculation. Having studied his works for longer than any man alive he is almost uniquely placed to do this detective work. In his tenth decade Wells has lost none of his curiosity or his eagerness to share his intimate knowledge.' Harriet Walter
'Stanley Wells illuminates and entertains – brilliant!' Kenneth Branagh
'A truly excellent book – I enjoyed every page. I am sure it will be read with appreciation by all who care for Shakespeare, or are curious about the inner turmoil of his life.' Claire Tomalin