Maggie O’Farrell’s “Hamnet,” one of last year’s most widely acclaimed novels, imagines the life of William Shakespeare, his wife, Anne (or Agnes) Hathaway, and the couple’s son Hamnet, who died at 11 years old in 1596.
On this week’s podcast, O’Farrell says she always planned for the novel to have the ensemble cast it does, but that her deepest inspiration was to capture a sense of the young boy at its center.
“The engine behind the book for me was always the fact that I think Hamnet has been overlooked and underwritten by history,” she says. “I think he’s been consigned to a literary footnote. And I believe, quite strongly, that without him — without his tragically short life — we wouldn’t have the play ‘Hamlet.’ We probably wouldn’t have ‘Twelfth Night.’ As an audience, we are enormously in debt to him.”
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To soar over Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire is to be transported back in time to the age of William Shakespeare; a man born in humble circumstances who would go on to become the most celebrated writer of all time.
The Shakespearean actor, most recognized for his performances in the sci-fi franchises “X-Men” and “Star Trek,” recently returned to the role of Captain Jean Luc Picard in the CBS All Access series “Star Trek: Picard.” But as “CBS This Morning” co-host Tony Dokoupil found out, Sir Patrick Stewart is much more down-to-earth than his title might imply.
Sir Patrick StewartOBE (born 13 July 1940) is an English actor, director and producer whose work has included roles on stage, television and film, in a career spanning six decades. He has been nominated for Olivier, Golden Globe, Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, and Saturn Awards.
Beginning his career with a long run with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stewart received the 1979 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Antony and Cleopatra in the West End. Stewart’s first major screen roles were in BBC-broadcast television productions during the mid-late 1970s, including Hedda, and the I, Claudius miniseries.
In a year of plagues, power struggles and star-crossed lovers divided by lockdown, Anne McElvoy asks James Shapiro, author of “Shakespeare in a Divided America”, what the bard would make of it all. Shakespeare is claimed by Americans of all political stripes.
But how can a lad from 16th-century Stratford-upon-Avon illuminate the past and future of the republic now? Plus, what the president might teach the professor about Shakespeare’s work. And, Shapiro prescribes a verse for the trials and tribulations of 2020.
Octavian Report “Rostrum” spoke with him about a major theme in Shakespeare’s work and life: disease. Specifically, pandemic plagues, which ravaged London repeatedly throughout Shakespeare’s career, shuttering the theaters, and which appear (obliquely and otherwise) in some of his greatest plays.
The latest episode of the Rostrum’s coronavirus series features James Shapiro, the Larry Miller professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, and a leading expert on Shakespeare. Shapiro has published widely on this subject, most recently Shakespeare in a Divided America. He is also an advisor to the Royal Shakespeare Company and to the Public Theater.
James S. Shapiro (born 1955) is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University who specialises in Shakespeare and the Early Modern period. Shapiro has served on the faculty at Columbia University since 1985, teaching Shakespeare and other topics, and he has published widely on Shakespeare and Elizabethan culture.