Item description for The Life & Times William Shakespeare: 1564-1616 by Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel...
William Shakespeare's literary work has fascinated and entertained people throughout the world for centuries. His life, however, has always been shrouded in mystery. Now an eminent Shakespearean scholar presents a complete picture of his life and times and reveals the man himself. In this extraordinary study, Professor Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel sets the great English playwright firmly in his time and reveals his deep involvement in the dramatic political events of the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. After ascending the throne, Queen Elizabeth I made Anglicanism, a version of the Protestant confession, the official State religion and announced her aim to abolish Catholicism within her lifetime. Brutal persecution of priests and believers in the Old Religion followed and they were forced to go underground or into exile. This background of religious ferment meant that, due to their potentially explosive content, nearly half of Shakespeare's works could not be published during his lifetime, only becoming public seven years after his death. Hammerschmidt-Hummel demonstrates how this political backdrop is the key to understanding so many of the secrets and puzzles of Shakespeare's life and work. Who were Shakespeare's friends and enemies? What did he do during his lost years ? How did he manage to become the most influential writer in England in such a short time? What did his contemporaries think and write about him? Why did he suddenly start writing tragedies? Is Hamlet, the tragedy of a great Prince in a rotten State, a reflection of the dramatic and tragic events at the end of the Elizabethan age? And why did Shakespeare fail to write one word of homage to the Queen during her 45-year reign? Professor Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel answers these and other key questions in this comprehensive and groundbreaking biography of William Shakespeare.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 11.7" Width: 8.5" Height: 1.1" Weight: 4.15 lbs.
Release Date Mar 1, 2007
Publisher Chaucer Press
ISBN 1904449557 ISBN13 9781904449553
Reviews - What do customers think about The Life & Times William Shakespeare: 1564-1616?
remarkable biography Dec 16, 2007
[this is a review in progress, to be continued and revised] Here's a very impressively-researched and well-illustrated book (and given the high quality of illustrations, many in color, reasonably priced). She claims Shakespeare was a life-long secret Catholic. Others have claimed this before. Surely he was baptized as such and had family members and friends who evidently were still Catholic when that was illegal in England. But his book goes beyond that, claiming that Shakespeare studied in continental European colleges set up for English Catholics. She claims much else too. It may suggest caution that she claims to have discovered so much: who was the Dark Lady of the Sonnets (Southampton's wife), which four portraits are genuine (and others not), and even what disease she thinks he died of--and more! (Even if he had the disease, which I'm not qualified to evaluate, it does not necessarily follow that he died from it.) So one might think that's just too much to believe, and, perhaps, though I don't know this, she might want him to be a Catholic, to claim him. But all that said, and even if some of her claims are speculative, she offers pretty good evidence for some of these claims. Less persuasive speculations include what life situations gave rise to some of his writings--occasionally possiblilty but not necessity--and whether or not he wrote a sonnet copied on a painting that forms part of the "Dark Lady" identification; if his sonnet, it is not among his best. It is at least quite plausible that shakespeare had more education than grade school would have provided. And he could not have attended Oxford or Cambridge without taking an oath of loyalty to the Queen and the Church of England. Though perhaps one could argue that he was merely an avid reader, largely self-educated, I think his apparent education is one reason that so many theories have been proposed and enthusiastically promoted that really Francis Bacon or de Vere or Marlowe (with a supposedly faked death) or someone else really wrote Shakespeare. Years ago I read several of these alternate author scenarios and conspiracy theories, all of which I found, besides being contradictory, unpersuasive. Also, there's the relatively sparse documentation of his life--lesser authors contemporary with him left a bigger personal paper trail. For some reason--temperament or a need to hide his religion, or both?--he kept a low profile, especially considering that he was a writer and actor. When asked to write a poem honoring Queen Elizabeth, who persecuted Catholics, he declined. That last item is merely circumstantial evidence, but she piles up many such circumstances, and she gives a plausible chronology of his trips to Europe, even giving plausible names and photographs in the school registers that he might have used to prevent English spies from identifying him. At a minimum, she has reopened some old questions in an interesting way, and has provided at least some new relevant evidence. Even at that (tentative) minimum appraisal, that's remarkable, I think, especially when the subject has been investigated before as much as Shakespeare has. (A review of the earlier German edition by E. A. J. Honigmann and her energetic response to the review is available online.)