Reviews and Testimonials

 

Review by Emeritus Professor, John Pick

“This meticulously researched and highly readable book … convincingly demonstrates who were the real authors of the 1623 First  Folio used the dead Shakespeare’s name… the book puts a huge spanner in the well known and romanticised story of Shakespeare and all his works. It will be widely read throughout the English speaking world-traditionalists should be warned- it is not easy to refute.”

Amazon reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
By D. J. Franklin VINE VOICE on 26 April 2016

Questioning the identification of a figure so ingrained in the national consciousness as The Bard himself is always going to be an emotive subject and one that requires a compelling argument to change peoples perceptions. Thankfully an impressive depth of research is something this book provides in spades and despite the complexity of the subject comes across as a wonderfully intriguing yet eminently readable work.

Basically the argument is based on our understanding of Shakespeare’s life and character against the works that were attributed to him, largely after his death. Most contemporary references to Shakespeare mention him as a businessman, small time actor or scribe and though works may have his name on them, in this pre-copyright world it is the equivalent of “this book belongs too…” written in the front cover. Neither is he known to have travelled abroad, had close links to nobility and isn’t buried in a place of particular reverence like many of his contemporaries.

It then examines the nature of the works, which were compiled in 1623 as The First Folio, seven years after he died. The works of history in particular are peopled with the ancestors of the Sidney and Herbert families, powerful dynasties of the Lancastrian line famed for their influence on the crown and their patronage of the arts. Were they commissioning a favourable rewriting of their own history? Also many of the plays display an acute knowledge of other European countries, particularly Italy its ways, people and landscape, not the usual area of expertise for a west midlands glove-maker who appears to have only made the journey to London and back.

And the plays themselves in their First Folio form are a world away from the theatre styles Shakespeare is linked to. His was a world of shorter, bawdy, cabaret style performances aimed at less literate types. The plays as we find them are overly long, too complex and too literary rich to have been favourites of the everyday theatre-goers. They are also known to have been performed at important court events in particular inductions into The Order of the Garter of high ranking European dignitaries, again not something that would be trusted to a rural grammar school oik.

The argument is deeper and more compelling than I can do justice to in a review such as this but believe me it does manage to resolve many of the questions it raises into an argument that is in many ways a total paradigm shift from most people’s perception of the author. Maybe he was a collector of works, a small time actor with higher ambition, a businessman who supported the arts financially and not the maverick literary genius we have him pinned as.

To most people the authorship of the First Folio is fairy immaterial and the collected works still represent the pinnacle of Elizabethan and Jacobean literary achievement whether the product of one midlands literary wannabe or a range of well-educated gentry and patronized favourites. But for those who like a good literary whodunit, this book is a compelling read.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars
Nothing better than making your mind think about matters
ByAmazon Customer on 24 April 2016

Verified Purchase
Collective research well done by Mr and Mrs Black, intriguing read, written to give your mind questions.. Nothing better than making your mind think about matters. Love the cover witty and lighthearted very clever.

5.0 out of 5 stars
The mystery unfolds…
By Amazon Customer on 24 April 2016

This is an intriguing read and essential to anyone interested in the Bard and the mysteries surrounding the plays and their antecedents. Michael and Pauline Black have spent many years investigating this conundrum and have presented their findings in a scholarly and yet readable book. You will never watch the plays in quite the same way after delving into the mysteries of their authorship.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Fascinating and original
By Alison Gibbons: Recipes for Lifeon 23 April 2016
I found this book very readable despite its complex subject. I thought it gave original insights into many aspects
of the Shakespeare authorship question and the final conclusion is persuasive. The cover design is witty.

Recommended.

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