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The Secret Life of William Shakespeare

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  202 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Named One of Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Books of 2014

There are so few established facts about how the son of a glove maker from Warwickshire became one of the greatest writers of all time that some people doubt he could really have written so many astonishing plays. We know that he married Anne Hathaway, who was pregnant and six years older than he, at the age of eighteen
Hardcover, 438 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by St. Martin's Press (first published March 1st 2012)
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Maya Panika
I finished this book some days ago but couldn't write a review right away, I needed time to think through the conflicted feelings I was left with when I turned the last page. The writing definitely deserves five stars, it is rich and lush and lavish, dense with metaphor; it took me a long time to read, I could only digest it in small bites. The story on the other hand, is odd. It's not really about Shakespeare at all; Jude Morgan doesn't seem to ever get to grips with him as a character. Will's ...more
This is a beautifully written book. The prose is to die for and the characters are well rounded and interesting. The historical detail feels spot on too. The reason it's on my DNF shelf is that the effect is so strong that it's like eating strong cheese or dark chocolate - a little goes a very long way and it's my fault I didn't have the stamina to keep on going and to unravel some of the playful undercurrents. It's a book that got away from me in the end.
I have kept it and may well return to
The cover of this edition reflects the content perfectly for me - can't tell anything about the person at all.

I borrowed this from my library because I know some of my GR friends think very highly of another of Morgan's books (Indiscretion) & my local library doesn't carry that particular title. So I thought I would try this one first

But although Morgan's prose is beautiful, a lot of it about other people in Shakepeare's life. Maybe there is too little known to make an interesting tale. Or m
Ann Roberts
The Secret Life of William Shakespeare - by Jude Morgan.
Loved the cover of the paperback - and the title, of course. Wasn't quite sure whether I would get on with it at first - the language was challenging, and since I read at night for relaxation, I nearly gave up. Glad I didn't!
Ben Jonson's language was much easier, so I read on - but by then Wm Shakespeare was also becoming real to me, and I was hooked.
Gradually, this extraordinary man, of whom we know so little apart from his work, became,
Words. They are strange creatures,aren't they? The power to affect, to influence and to touch. At what point do words cease to become others' and embed themselves so deeply into your being that you forget these words originally weren't yours?

The only issue I have with this book is that it touches on everything fleetingly. Will is in Stratford, then he is not. In London, then not. Unknown, then famous. Player, then writer, then once in a while back in the role of himself - father, son and husband
The Bard is everywhere at the moment thanks to the World Shakespeare Festival which began on the date of his supposed birthday and definite demise, 23 April. Perfect timing for a new book from an excellent storyteller, Jude Morgan, who has written several historical novels including the critically acclaimed A Taste of Sorrow about the Bronte sisters.

In this intelligent and very readable novel, Morgan takes advantage of the fact that little is really known about the man behind the prolific playwr

I’m a big ol’ fan of Shakespeare’s many beautiful works, so when this novel exploring his early life and his start in the world of theatres and writing, I was over the moon!

Living up to the most famous writer in the world was always going to be a tall order, but Jude Morgan takes up the challenge with great aplomb and does a sterling job of showcasing The Bard’s works while presenting him as a real and very believable character in his own story – a fallible man striking o
Jude Morgan skillfully weaves together the story of the Shakespeare marriage with a possible account of his "missing years". In so doing the author cleverly includes a number of Shakespeare's literary comtemporaries and describes the theatrical and thespian life as well as evoking the smells, sounds and sights of Tudor life in London and Stratford.
This is a literary historical novel with a very rich language, written in a style which in many places reflects Shakespeare's own writing. Some sente
I am taking this book in very slowly, like a cup of tea savored with a friend. The language is beautiful and needs to be enjoyed and absorbed.

I like the fact that Anne Hathaway is neither a shrew abandoned nor a woman scorned (at least not so far) and Will and Anne are a couple deeply in love and trying to make this thing work. I also like the fact that this author has chosen to follow a straight-forward path from Stratford to London without any detours into speculative "Shakeshafte" the Cathol
I only read this because it hadn't been checked out of the library yet. This "historical fiction" requires a leap of faith I'm not willing to take when it includes lines like, "Really? Will thought Really?" Perhaps I'm just a curmudgeon, but I have a hard time buying that William Shakespeare thought in present day vernacular. It's been a long time since I've studied the bard, but I just don't think there's enough historical knowledge of the man himself for me to be able handle finding the imagin ...more
Hmmm, well. Usually I really enjoy historical fiction, but I do expect an author to write an afterword showing which parts of the book are pure fiction and which parts are based on historical record.

Knowing that there wasn't this at the end (I always check before starting) affected my reading of the novel, lessening the enjoyment I might otherwise have had.

I persevered with the book because it was interesting enough (just), but I think it would have been improved by being shorter. There seemed
Kayla Tornello
William Shakespeare certainly lived an extraordinary life and I appreciated this imagining of his life with all of the historical details. However, for some reason, reading this book was just tedious. I didn't care for how the narrative jumps around constantly between people, places, and time. The characters just didn't connect with me, either. I found myself really wanting to like this book, but failing in the end.
I'm a bit of a Shakespeare fanatic. I kind of love the bard. Even though my students often groan when I tell them we are reading "King Lear" or "Hamlet," I get all a twitter about it. And, in the end, most of them even end up liking it, in prt because I get so enthusiastic.

I've read several biographies and non-fiction books about his life and times, studied at The Globe, visited Stratford and even photographed his grave, however, what never ceases to perplex me is how a man who left such a legac
I received this book in exchange for my review as part of the Goodreads First Reads program.

I am a huge Shakespeare fan and Jude Morgan gives us another way to look at this prolific writer. He has taken what little we know about the man and fleshed out his history so that Shakespeare becomes less of a legend and more of a real person. We see Shakespeare as he really might have been and how his career might have come to be. Jude Morgan gives us one possible story.

I appreciate the amount of time t
Apr 28, 2012 Misha marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist, history
April 12th, 2012
As a total Shakespeare nutter [he IS the greatest Briton ever!] I was really looking forward to this book and seeing how someone with imagination saw how the man lived and worked. The story covers a specific period of his life between teenage frustrations and middle age success. As well as how Will lived and loved, it covers much of his wife's feelings left behind in Stratford, plus those of Ben Jonson as some sort of comparison.

I feel Morgan puts across very well many, many aspects of the life
When I took this novel up, my expectations were extremely high. Not only was it on a very interesting topic but it was written by one of my favorite authors. However, what I expected from this book was to know more about William Shakespeare's enigmatic life. It failed to do so.
The main focus of this novel was the love-story between Shakespeare and his wife, Anne. That certainly made for an interesting read however most of it was conjecture. There were of course instances from his life as a playe
‘…And all the men and women merely players’

If you're going to write a book about one of the greatest writers of all time, then you need your own writing skill to be able to stand the inevitable comparisons. Jude Morgan's does. This is a beautifully written novel, each word carefully crafted to draw the reader in to a world full of poetry and drama.

Morgan fills the gaps in our knowledge about Shakespeare's life by creating a character who is completely convincing and compelling - a man who quest
I loved A Taste of Sorrow, Jude Morgan's wonderful novel about the Brontes and hoped to be similarly thrilled by this window onto the world of William Shakespeare. Unfortunately the view is rather blurred, to the point of opacity and I was left feeling slightly bewildered and convinced I must have missed something which was so obvious to other I waited a month before reviewing, thinking that I'd soon experience some sort of epiphany, a dawn of understanding but didn't arr ...more
Feb 01, 2014 Alison added it
what happens to a married couple when the husband has a mysterious calling to be so caught up in writing the innermost thoughts of his characters that he is not at home - physically or mentally. Shakespeare lives in London first to make his way and then cos he needs to be where the theatres are; the family tries life in London but can't cope with it, so they meet only occasionally. very well written of the life and times and thoughts and feelings and motivation of WS and his contemporaries as we ...more

I thought the book was very well written and the story was enjoyable. I liked the way Morgan touched on how Shakespeare could have created some many wonderful works. I saw this as taking aim
at conspiracy theories.

I do enjoy historical fiction, but prefer real characters not to have actions and dialogue not ascribed to them in reality. Though there was not a lot of background information for Morgan to rely on, this aspect of the book bothered me.

I did feel compelled to look up the real character

Like many I struggled to get into this book and I had a hard time at first as the relationship between Will and Anne seemed so much fiction as we really know nothing about it. It may the romantic version of this book or it might have been a marriage of convenience - who knows? However once I got into it, it's a fascinating story and I loved the interweaving or historical characters likeBen Johnson and others including Mathew who plays the female parts in the performances. The author gives a cred
May 21, 2014 Janet added it
Shelves: failed-attempts
After reading the title I was expecting either some big Grand Reveal of a little-known facet of Shakespeare's life or an alternate reality like Lori Handeland's Shakespeare Undead. This is neither, simply a fictionalized telling of Shakespeare's life. I lost interest after realizing this.
Sabra Kurth
Caught on the Shakespeare bandwagon, I decided to give this a try. It was a mixed bag--the splashes of Jonson, Marlowe, and Kyd were enjoyable, but I became frustrated with the bouncing narrative. Despite the frustration, I enjoyed it.
What a wonderful effort to bring to life the greatest writer and poet of the English language. We know hardly anything about him, but after reading this you feel that you do. The world he lived in, his marriage, his friends, his family, they all come alive. I loved the language and the style. Not an easy read, but totally beguiling.
Worked to read this but worth it.
Liked it, but didn't love it.
Em Arber
I am still half way through, and I am reading it very slowly, because when it is over, I will be disappointed! Jude Morgan is an amazing writer, she feels for Will Shakespeare, she has captured him in such a way, that makes me love him more with each turning page.. He was a dreamer, a thinker, a man in love... and she has brought him to life. I cannot wait to continue reading, and to see how the book finishes, but it will be a book I will read again, and to hunt down her other books!
The secret life of William Shakespeare, is truly a secret. Jude Morgan has done a wonderful job writing in the gaps of Shakesperes life. The story flows with rich dialog between all the facets of Shakesperes life blending history with imgination. I am thankful that I won this givaway. I gave it 4 stars because it took me a bit to really get into the book. Please do give it a chance once your in it's exciting to see Jude Morgan's version of Shakespeare's life take shape.
Beautifully written.
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Jude Morgan was born and brought up in Peterborough on the edge of the Fens and was a student on the University of East Anglia MA Course in Creative Writing under Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter.

A pseudonym used by Tim Wilson.

Also writes under the name Hannah March.
More about Jude Morgan...
Indiscretion An Accomplished Woman Passion: A Novel of the Romantic Poets The Taste of Sorrow A Little Folly

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“Aye, so: there is love, and there is indulgence, and they may touch sometimes but they're not the same.” 0 likes
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