Bill Bryson belongs to one of my favourite authors. I first started to love him for his hilarious travel stories, then admire him for his knowledge about the English language and in the end respect him for his in-depth research into all sorts of knowledge.
He has outdone himself again. I knew that we didn't know much about Shakespeare's life but I never knew that we knew so little. But to make a whole book out of the little that is known and to paint a good picture about one of the most important people in history, that requires quite a talent and I can't imagine a better writer for this than Bill Bryson.
He guides us into the world of playwrights, almost the beginning of theatre as we know it. We visit the England of Elizabeth I with all its glory and horror, we see how people lived and died. All that through the description of one man of whom little is known. But what a man, he had a profound impact on this world, even on today's society. His contribution to the English language is huge and anyone who learns it comes across him at one point or another. Having said that, even if people don't learn the English language, his plays have been translated into every major language, and will have been watched by more people than those of any other writer dead or alive.
And, as I said before, I think only Bill Bryson would know how to tackle this enormous task of writing about someone who has been dead for almost 400 years and left little behind than his plays.
From the back cover: "World-famous writer Bill Bryson brings us this brilliantly readable biography of our greatest dramatist and poet William Shakespeare.
Examining centuries of myths, half-truths and downright lies, Bill Bryson makes sense of the man behind the masterpieces. In a journey through the streets of Shakespeare's time, he brings to life the hubbub of Elizabethan England and a host of characters along the way. Bryson celebrates the glory of Shakespeare’s language - his ceaseless inventiveness gave us hundreds of now indispensable phrases, images and words - and delights in details of his fall-outs and folios, poetry and plays.
Stitching together information from a vast array of sources, he created a unique celebration of one of the most significant, and least understood, figures in history - not to mention a classic piece of Bill Bryson."
See my post about all of his books here.