Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard
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Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  264 ratings  ·  61 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...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published 2010 by HarperCollins
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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...more
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...more
Mar 04, 2011 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Buried In Print
Jan 15, 2014 Buried In Print added it
Shelves: canlit
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.
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...more
Mar 06, 2012 Doreen added it
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 4 of 5 stars
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
Jul 06, 2014 Kathe added it
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
Not enough Mr. Shakespeare and a little too much bastard. The title should have tipped me off...
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
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...more
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
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...more
Jan 01, 2012 Caleigh rated it 3 of 5 stars
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 youn...more
Carolyn B-R
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...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...more
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
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
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
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.
Daniel Kukwa
A surprise from the man behind the novel "Clara Callan" -- this is a sumptuous tale that combines the cosmopolitan nature of a 17th century mega-city with the small, intimate details of country living. Full of intoxicating characters and a poignant wistfulness, it's as delightful and charming in its use of history as something like "Wolf Hall" is epic & grandiose. Simply devine...and it just means I'll have to read more works by this well-honoured Ontario author.
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.
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.

I loved this book, I couldn't stop reading it from the moment I started. I only put it down to do some things you can't do while you are reading! It is an enchanting and wonderful story. Richard B. Wright was already an author who I liked after I read Clara Callan, this book makes him one of my favorite authors and if I ever meet him I want to thank him for writing this story. I wanted it to be a true story! Bravo Mr. Wright!
I really enjoyed the protagonist and her characterization and Wright is gifted at bringing this lovely world to life. But, and it's a big but, I hated the frame of the narrative and the text's conceit -- the storytelling / remembrance aspect made the story drag. In its best bits, it has shades of Stone Angel about it. But in it's driest bits, it also has shades of Stone Angel about it. Soooooooo...
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CBC Books: July '12 - Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard by Richard Wright 19 33 Jul 31, 2012 10:15AM  
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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
More about Richard B. Wright...
Clara Callan October Adultery The Age Of Longing: A Novel The Weekend Man:  A Novel

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