Shakespeare's Kings

John Julius Norwich
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ISBN 9780571251438 Format Paperback
Published 21/05/2009 Length 510 pages

About Book

Shakespeare's Kings is a brilliant narrative survey of a nation's history as portrayed by the nation's greatest writer, William Shakespeare, recounting the story of what really happened in the century and a half between 1337 and 1485 by examining the history plays, from the recently authenticated Edward III through to Richard III.

Just where did history stop and drama begin? John Julius Norwich establishes just how real Shakespeare's characters and events are and what liberties he took with the facts to improve the pace of the plays and to entertain his audience.

'Although Shakespeare remains faithful to his sources for much of the time, there are - predictably enough - a good number of divergencies. From time to time he may have had to cope with an objection from the censor; a shortage of actors may sometimes have made it necessary to eliminate some minor character and attribute his actions to another. There are even moments when the root of the trouble seems to have been nothing more than plain carelessness. But in the vast majority of instances when Shakespeare departed from historic truth he did so for the best of all reasons: to make a better play. He was, after all, a playwright - first, last and always. To him, the cause of the drama was of infinitely greater importance than the slavish observance of historical truth.'

Shakespeare's Kings is an illuminating companion to history and the richness of Shakespeare's imagination: an imagination which still shapes our view of the past today.

  • About John Julius Norwich

    John Julius Norwich was born in 1929. He joined the British Foreign Service after studying French and Russian at Oxford, and left the service in 1964 to become a writer. He has also worked extensively in radio and television, hosting the popular BBC radio panel game My Word! for several years, and writing and presenting historical documentaries. His many books include an acclaimed Byzantium trilogy.

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