Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard” as Want to Read:
Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  362 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
In a quiet manor house in Oxfordshire, an ailing housekeeper by the name of Aerlene Ward feels the time has come to confess the great secret that has shaped her life-she is the illegitimate daughter of William Shakespeare, England's most famous playwright.

With a brilliant eye and ear for this rich period of history, Richard B. Wright brings to life the teeming streets of E
Paperback, 342 pages
Published 2010 by Harper Collins 4th Estate
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nov 24, 2015 Shane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overlapping stories mirroring events fifteen years apart of life in Elizabethan England and involving the Bard himself in what could have been a unwritten chapter of his life.

Wright paints a vivid picture of the period: a time when even though England was not at war, life was short and death sudden, caused by a cold, a cancer, a fall from a horse, a house fire, the plague, not forgetting common ailments like kidney stones, cataracts and the “French Pox.” A journey from Oxford to London took four
Jan 10, 2011 Chelsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, who doesn't love a good Canadian writer? Especially one who has won the Giller?!
Not only this, but I am proud to say that Richard B. Wright is a current resident in my home town of St. Catharines, Ontario! When I saw a friend reading this on Goodreads, I couldn't help myself. I bought it and read it in time to write an entrance essay on it for a program I applied to. And I must say -- it was a great pick to write on!

This is my first Richard B. Wright book, but definitely will not be the l
3.5 stars!

I really enjoyed this, fairly light, historical fiction story. The setting (Shakespearean/Elizabethan England) is a favourite of mine but usually I read about the royals of this time period. This was a great look into the more common folk - how they lived and handled the inevitable troubles that would occur. It was very honest in the portrayal of relationships and their repercussions. This never felt like a fanciful novel. It could have been my own grandmother telling me this story. U
Buried In Print
This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads.

The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here.

I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here.

If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks.
Apr 22, 2011 Lulu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A somewhat simple (for Wright) story about the possibility that William Shakespeare fathered children outside of his marriage - not a son, as some biographers believe (and who does make a cameo in the novel) but a daughter, who is raised in a small village outside of London, but eventually makes her way into the city, just like her mother did when she met the beginning playwright many years before.
While the various voices telling this story seem rather uncomplicated, this wasn't a typical "I kn
Mar 06, 2012 Doreen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal-library
Shakespeare's personal life is poorly documented,leaving room for much speculation. This novel speculates that The Bard fathered an illegitimate daughter, although he remained unaware of her existence. This daughter, Aerlene Ward, is the 70-year-old narrator who tells the story of her own life and that of her mother. Understandably she becomes obsessed with the father's plays, and passages from them are inserted and connected to Aerlene's situation. Aerlene especially likes "Hamlet" which explor ...more
Apr 25, 2011 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deb by:
The word that comes to mind is "fluffy", now I don't mean that in a derogatory sense, but rather it was full and light, but not particularly scholarly. It was a great yarn, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think I may have been expecting it to be a bit more Dickens-like, that is, bleak and dark. But it wasn't at all. Some of the visuals worked particularly well, and having visited London in 2008 and the Globe Theatre, it wasn't hard to sense what the streets of London would have been like in the 1 ...more
Mar 04, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Carol Booth
Mr Shakespeare’s Bastard is the latest offering from Richard B. Wright, who won the Giller Prize for Clara Callan in 2001. ANZLitLovers read and enjoyed that in 2005, and Mr. Shakespeare’s Bastard shares the same kind of deceptive tone: this tale about Shakespeare’s illegitimate daughter seems slight and inconclusive but it’s seductively revealing about lives in another lifetime, with perhaps also a message for our own. For the sub-text of this book is that whether a fatherless child identifies ...more
What would happen if William Shakespeare had illegitimite child? What would it have been like in his time? The writing of Richard Wright is lovely and slowly tells of tales of Mam and Aerlene through a great story-telling presentation and how William Shakespeare is involved (or not). I felt transported into time to England in the country, as well as, the bustling London and its different districts. Enjoyable.
Nov 25, 2010 Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010, canadian
I enjoyed the many levels of storytelling and the amount of historical details that went into writing this book. A very enjoyable read!

Last year I stayed near Oxford, at a B & B called Shakespeare House...Apparently, Will stayed there himself travelling back and forth between Stratford & London. I was very excited to hear that at the time, but now that I think of it - that was probably pure fiction as well!
May 17, 2012 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had trouble getting started, but eventually enjoyed it. This is the story of an old woman remembering her mother's life and her own search for a meeting with her father, William Shakespeare. Chapters of her current life as a beloved old servant are interspersed with the memories.
The front cover of mine quotes the Toronto Star "yet another total delight," which I think is overstated.
Jan 01, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fully enjoyed this book with the well-researched and vivid historical setting in 17th century London and the English countryside. I loved the strong, independent female protagonist Linny. Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard pairs up well with my favourite book that I read last year - Conceit by Mary Novik.
Sep 27, 2011 Georgina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not enough Mr. Shakespeare and a little too much bastard. The title should have tipped me off...
Christine Sheriff
A fascinating account of what might have been,or what may be for all we know. Rich in historical ambience, and entertaining as the author explores "what if".
Oct 20, 2010 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! No reviews on this book yet. Am I the first to read it? It is a 2010 publication. Goodreads, do I get a prize for this?

I have read many of Richard Wright's books and have not been disappointed. They are all very different stories. To my American cousins, this is a Canadian author, lives in St. Catherines, about 1 1/2 hours from Toronto. And, he's a great writer!

This one caught my attention by the title alone. What a fun and interesting read. A great blend of historical detail and inventi
Christa  Seeley
Arlene just wants to write down her story. Her mother, driven out of town by her numerous scandals, ends up in London where she meets a young actor named William. They begin seeing each other regularly but before she knows it she's pregnant and since William is already married, she must move back home to live with her brother and his wife. Years later, that child, Arlene Ward, goes back to London determined to find her father, the now famous playwright, William Shakespeare. Told by Arlene in her ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"In a quiet manor house in Oxfordshire, an ailing housekeeper by the name of Aerlene Ward feels the time has come to confess the great secret that has shaped her life-she is the illegitimate daughter of William Shakespeare, England's most famous playwright.

With a brilliant eye and ear for this rich period of history, Richard B. Wright brings to life the teeming streets of Elizabethan London and the seasonal rhythms of rural life in Oliver Cromwell's England as he interweaves the intriguin
As an elderly housekeeper, Aerlene, is nearing her death, she asks Charlotte, a woman who she has raised from a child, to write down the story of her life. Her story begins in the age of Cromwell. Aerlene's mother Elizabeth has been sent to London to work in her Uncle's house. On her afternoons off she meets a prostitute who introduces her to a young actor, Will Shakespeare. Will and Liz spent many hours together because both of them were homesick for the countryside. Liz became pregnant during ...more
Shonna Froebel
I found this novel to be a very quick read. It was pleasant and interesting. The story is told by Aerlene Ward, in her old age. She is a housekeeper at an Oxfordshire manor, and had started as a nursemaid to the now elderly landowner, Sir Walter. The youngest daughter of the family, Charlotte, has agreed to take down her story as Aerlene's eyes are failing.
Charlotte herself isn't sure whether she believes Aerlene's story that William Shakespeare was her father, but Aerlene's story rings true. Th
Feb 23, 2011 Caleigh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Had this book been written by an author that I didn't already know and like, I doubt I would have read it. The "imaginary love child of a historic figure" story line doesn't really sound all that promising or original on its own. But having loved Clara Callan, I was prepared to give Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard a try.

Fortunately, it really is an excellent book. I enjoyed the way half of it was the mother's story, as told to her daughter, and the other half the daughter's story, as told to her you
Dec 31, 2011 Carolyn rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the fact that this fictional memoir encompassed three different perspectives: Aerlene as an old and dying housekeeper; Aerlene as a young woman; and Aerlene's mother's story. I think that's what made me enjoy the story so much, as I really don't like memoirs much.

I think that the historical perspective was blended very well with the story, so it didn't feel like a 'history lesson made fun', just a really good read. I was fascinated by Aerlene's mother and Aerlene as a young girl
We don't know much about Shakespeare (though I'm firmly in the camp of those who don't really care who wrote those glorious plays but is profoundly grateful that someone did). This leaves writers quite a lot of scope if they want to write about his life. Despite the title, we only meet Will a few times in the course of this book. It's really about a mother and daughter whose lives were affected by their connection to him - but in a fairly peripheral way. The mother and daughter, Elizabeth and Ae ...more
Orla Hegarty
I am a big fan of Richard B. Wright and did enjoy this book. I feel he has done much better though. I usually have at least two or three quotes to write down after reading one of his books...his poetic use of the english language astounds me....but not this book. Ironic since it is loosely based one of the better known poets of the world. I feel that Mr. Wright wrote this book as an attempt at a different style....and his storyteller skills remain strong but his own often poetic prose was lost.
Jan 23, 2012 Martha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I didn't find Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard to be very original in concept, and I didn't particularly like Aerlene's narration. Basically, nothing about this novel grabbed me and made me want to keep reading - not the plot, not the characters, not the historical setting, not the storytelling. There's nothing really wrong with it; it just seemed average to me. Just okay. I actually skimmed the last 100 or so pages. I'm generally a fan of historical fiction, but this novel didn't really have anything ...more
The world described by Wright in which Shakespeare lived is greatly imagined. It was easy to follow Aerlene and her mother Elizabeth around London as it would have been like in the 16th Century.
Though there were times when I got exasperated with Aerlene when she was a young but she finally won me over towards the end.
Basically this story is about a old woman who is a nursemaid to a Squire's children in the town of Worsley who years later as she is dying tells his youngest daughter to scribe he
Aug 09, 2012 Gina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the very first page, Wright had me in his skillful hands. This is a tale, well-paced and well-told, about the life of a woman in the Cromwellian era. Although a bastard, her mother passes along a great gift - she teaches her daughter how to read. The story is also about the many varieties of love that neither time nor technology has changed. Wright is a masterful storyteller and wields his craft in such a manner as to make you forget you are reading. I'll be looking for some more of his wor ...more
Sep 11, 2011 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, Richard B. Wright is a master story-teller. His prose flows like a pure blue sky on a summer day. I always wait for his next offering. Certainly this didn't have the punch that "October" had. The biggest disappointment was the final fifty pages when Aerlene's reunion with her estranged father became nothing more than a series of glances and a tip of his hat. Within two or three pages of that, Aerlene is dead, and very few of the story's conflicts are settled. But, as always, it kept m ...more
An interesting read on the possibility that Wm. Shakespeare had an illegitimate child who never came to the public light. I enjoyed the premise that a woman, not aiming for fame and fortune and not professing a "soul-mate" kind of love, would have a child who would carry on those traits. The story had interesting details of that time in England and the type of lives being lived. It never really built up to a great climax in the storyline but was thoughtful and consistent all the way through. An ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Robyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an entertaining read for Shakespeare lovers and Shakespeare novices alike. Though the novel contains quotes from number of the Bard's plays it isn't a particularly "literary" novel. It's more of a beach read than fodder for in-depth study. However, the picture it paints of Cromwell's England is worth paying close attention to, as it is not a time period often portrayed in fiction and is well studied by the author, Richard B. Wright.
No surprise that Wright has a good eye and ear for the Elizabethan age. He does a good job of bringing the streets to life.

The plot is that an ailing and aging housekeeper writes her memoir: her mother was the lover of a struggling writer in the big city who becomes the famous playwright and producer. None other than Mr William Shakespeare.

Arlene (the daughter) does venture to meet her father, who may or may not recognize her for who she is.

Pretty good read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Lemon
  • Be Good
  • Sussex Drive: A Novel
  • The Golden Mean
  • The Deception of Livvy Higgs
  • The Incident Report
  • The Western Light
  • Heaven is Small
  • King Leary
  • Dogs at the Perimeter
  • Stray Love
  • The Boys in the Trees
  • Alone in the Classroom
  • Girls Fall Down
  • Emancipation Day
  • The Son of a Certain Woman
  • Sanctuary Line
  • The Wolves of St. Peter's
Richard B. Wright is a Canadian novelist.

Born in Midland, Ontario, Wright attended Trent University, from which he graduated in 1970. He is the author of 13 published novels and two children's books. Many of his older novels were out of print, but were republished after his novel Clara Callan won three of Canada's major literary awards in 2001: the Giller Prize; the Trillium Book Award; and the Go
More about Richard B. Wright...

Share This Book