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What kind of world made the man who was capable of producing so many of the worlds literary masterpieces, and what kind of life did he live? In this fascinating new book, Dympna Callaghan explores the question of Shakespeares life in order to throw new light on his works. Organized as a series of juxtapositions between life and writing, using various sources, Who Was William Shakespeare? provides a clear guide to Shakespeares plays, while deepening our knowledge about the writers literary achievement and his historical moment.
Dympna Callaghan is William L. Safire Professor of Modern Letters at Syracuse University and President of the Shakespeare Association of America, 2012–13. She is the editor of the Arden Shakespeare Language and Writing Series and coeditor, with Michael Dobson, of the Palgrave Shakespeare Studies series. Her publications include Shakespeare Without Women (2000), The Taming of the Shrew: A Norton Critical Edition (2009), Shakespeare’s Sonnets (2007), The Impact of Feminism in English Renaissance Culture (2006), and Romeo and Juliet: Texts and Contexts (2003).
Table of Contents
Note on the Text ix
Part I The Life 1
1 Who was William Shakespeare? 3
2 Writing 23
3 Religion 47
4 Status 61
5 Theatre 79
Part II The Plays 97
6 Comedies: Shakespeare’s Social Life 99
The Comedy of Errors 99
The Taming of the Shrew 108
Love’s Labour’s Lost 119
A Midsummer Night’s Dream 125
The Merchant of Venice 132
Much Ado About Nothing 138
As You Like It 146
Twelfth Night, Or What You Will 153
Measure for Measure 159
7 English and Roman Histories: Shakespeare’s Politics 177