Shakespeare for Grown-ups Book Review

Shakespeare for Grown-ups Book Review

Even though I work for Shakespeare's Globe, embarrassingly I don't actually know that much about the Bard and his works. So a book claiming to provide me with everything I need to know about the Bard is a very intriguing prospect. With the recent trend of interesting data presentation, I was glad to see that Foley and Coates' book follow suit. With interesting graphs, diagrams and timelines peppered through the book, it's a great way to learn more about Shakespeare in a visually stimulating way. This definitely isn't an English textbook. It’s a great book to have for reference, I will definitely be using it the next time I’d like to find out more about a play before seeing it.

The book is structured in a few sections, focusing on Shakespeare’s biography, plays and poetry. The biography section is very interesting to learn what may have influenced Shakespeare as well as the cultural landscape of the time. The book includes lots of mini-sections that provide information on things like the background of tragedies, Shakespeare’s collaborators or glossaries of Shakespearean language. Lots of good pub quiz knowledge for a Shakespeare round. As the book is only 250 pages long you can’t expect in-depth analysis of all the plays, but the aim of the book is probably to encourage people to read or see the plays for themselves. The plays section of the book is broken up in Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Whilst all the plays are given a summary at the beginning of the book, Foley and Coates only go into more detail for the most famous plays. In these sections, a summary, key themes and quotes are provided. It’s a great way to get a feel for a play before seeing it.

The tone is very informal and friendly throughout, which makes the book an easy read. This is especially good for those who perceive Shakespeare as inaccessible. It's also nice to have a significant amount of information about Shakespeare in one concise location. I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants to know more about Shakespeare and his works as the colloquial language makes the book really easy to read and understand. It’s a great starting off point for people who want to get into the plays and have a fuller understanding before watching them.

Review by Gillian (Development Assistant)


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