Contrary to popular belief, a great many traces survive from the life of William Shakespeare: entries in parish records, legal papers, at least one authenticated portrait, a few anecdotes (some apocryphal), and some interesting allusions in the writings of contemporaries – quite apart from the Sonnets, two narrative poems, and those 37-odd plays (most of which, despite all the nonsense published in their praise every year, really are extremely good). For certain readers, however, all this still leaves much to be desired. There is no evidence, for example, to suggest that Shakespeare was ever photographed with Kenneth Branagh; no interviews survive from the Observer Colour Supplement to reveal the bard’s frank opinions on Sir Ian McKellen, ecology or the Arts Council; and no document uncovered to date to suggest that he was ever romantically involved with either Peggy Ashcroft or Laurence Olivier or any of their respective ex-spouses. In short, the biggest theatrical celebrity of all time has so far been, as theatrical celebrities go, a bit of a non-starter.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
'After all, who knows what anybody is really like, or what they really think? The biographer – same as a painter of portraits – cannot help but reproduce himself to some degree.'
From the archive: Beryl Bainbridge talks to Sebastian Shakespeare.
"fascinating piece of writing ...unexpectedly gripping read...The #RedCircleMinis are a really wonderful initiative; every one I’ve read has been so different and so good... #OneLoveChigusa is an excellent addition to the series! “Thank you @kaggsy59 🙂 https://bit.ly/2ZIdeqL
@johnkampfner's book traces the '"consensual culture" of contemporary Germany, its love of slogging processes and of "getting it right", characteristics epitomised by Angela Merkel.'
Do the Germans really 'do it better'? Thomas Kielinger explores.