Shakespeare's story is not one of a steady rise to fame; it is a tale of set-backs and sea-changes that have made him the cultural icon he is today.
This revealing new book accompanies an innovative exhibition at the British Library that will take readers on a journey through more than 400 years of performance. It will focus on ten moments in history that have changed the way we see Shakespeare, from the very first production of Hamlet to a digital-age deconstruction. Each performance holds up a mirror to the era in which it was performed. The first stage appearance by a woman in 1660 and a black actor playing Othello in 1825 were landmarks for society as well as for Shakespeares reputation. The book will also explore productions as diverse as Peter Brooks legendary A Midsummer Nights Dream, Mark Rylance's Original Practices, Twelfth Night, and a Shakespeare forgery staged at Drury Lane in 1796, among many others.
Over 100 illustrations include the only surviving playscript in Shakespeares hand, an authentic Shakespeare signature, and rare printed editions including the First Folio. These and other treasures from the British Librarys manuscript and rare book collections will feature alongside film stills, costumes, paintings and production photographs.
In this book ten leading experts take a fresh look at Shakespeare, reminding us that the playwrights iconic status has been constructed over the centuries in a process that continues across the world today.
About the author
Gordon McMullan is Professor of English at Kings College London and a director of the London Shakespeare Centre. Zoë Wilcox is Lead Curator at the British Library for the Shakespeare and performance exhibition which this book accompanies.
- Gordon McMullan and Zoë Wilcox
- British Library
- Publication date
- April 2016
- 240 pages