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The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver…
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The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street (2007)

by Charles Nicholl

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4241539,011 (3.82)25
Acclaimed author Charles Nicholl presents a brilliantly drawn detective story with entirely new insights into Shakespeare's life.In 1612, William Shakespeare gave evidence in a court case at Westminster; it is the only occasion on which his actual spoken words were recorded. The case seems routine-a dispute over an unpaid marriage dowry-but it opens an unexpected window into the dramatist's famously obscure life. Using the court testimony as a springboard, acclaimed nonfiction writer Charles Nicholl examines this fascinating period in Shakespeare's life. With evidence from a wide variety of sources, Nicholl creates a compelling, detailed account of the circumstances in which Shakespeare lived and worked during the time in which he wrote such plays as Othello, Measure for Measure, and King Lear. The case also throws new light on the puzzling story of Shakespeare's collaboration with the hack author and violent brothel owner George Wilkins. In The Lodger Shakespeare we see the playwright in the daily context of a street in Jacobean London: ?one Mr. Shakespeare,? lodging in the room upstairs. Nicholl is one of the great historical detectives of our time and in this atmospheric and exciting book he has created a considerable rarity-something new and original about Shakespeare.… (more)
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1st American edition
  ddorwick3602 | Mar 3, 2019 |
Like spending an evening with a chatty Elizbethan-history geek. I would adore spending an evening with a chatty Elizabethan-history geek, so I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Mileage will vary. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Like spending an evening with a chatty Elizbethan-history geek. I would adore spending an evening with a chatty Elizabethan-history geek, so I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Mileage will vary. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Surprisingly little is known about one of history's greatest, and most prolific, playwrights, William Shakespeare. There have been attempts (Bill Bryson wrote a good one) to summarize what we know and offer some conjecture to what we do not. Charles Nicholl is attempting such a thing here in The Lodger Shakespeare. However, in this case is, it is more plausible conjecture than simply summarizing the facts (which would take little space indeed). What we have is a plausible account of perhaps the most mundane episode in a great man's life.

Nicholl spends a lot of time tediously exploring the use of single terms and trying to find meaningful parallels in Shakespeare's life. The premise, that he was a boarder of a family of Montjoie's -- a husband and wife wig-making duo -- is inferred by several public records, then pumped up by the author's imagination. While a little insight into normal life in the late 16th/early 17th century could be interesting, the author's effort to tie the most insignificant detail to his thesis is utterly tiresome.

If you want speculation on the life and times of Shakespeare, do yourself a favor and read the Bryson book instead. ( )
  JeffV | Oct 14, 2014 |
GLBT interest tag is because the sum total mention of same-sex social and sexual relationships in Shakespeare's London is limited to one sentence in Note 55 of Section 6.

Astrology tag because 16th century astrologer/doctor Simon Foreman plays a role.

Like the Shapiro book, this was gorgeously researched. Unlike the Shapiro book, the scope of this story is extremely narrow, suffers badly from pacing problems, and too often forgets to remind the reader why the grandkids of someone's former servant are even a little bit relevant.

However, the core connections between the drama of this household and the various plays Shakespeare wrote while living there are fascinating. He tells a compelling story connecting the dots of surviving data -- Marie Mountjoy's life is a novel waiting to happen, I suspect. But I also suspect Nicholl is much better with material that contains more evidence about the characters' lives. ( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
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