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The Shakespeare Stealer (The Shakespeare Stealer #1)

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,562 Ratings  ·  392 Reviews
A young orphan named Widge is sent to the Globe Theater to steal the script of Hamlet from Shakespeare's own company of players. When he becomes friends with the actors, he must decide whether to disobey his sinister master or betray his new friends.
Published July 1st 2000 by Turtleback Books (first published May 1st 1998)
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Nov 04, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really hated this book in the being but in the end i came to like it. The book involves a lot of sword fighting, weird, HUH? The book really comes to show that everybody is not who you thought they were. Sometimes people hide their identity for goo reasons and sometimes for bad reasons. This book really comes to show that loyalty is important and you need to be careful who you trust, because you never know who is hiding their identity!! I would definitely recommend this book, It is a quick and ...more
Nov 12, 2015 Taylor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I personally did not like this book. I thought it was really slow and boring and didn't get interesting till the end. To really understand the book you have to know the language. There is a lot of older language that some people might not understand. The book is kind of confusing at some points and really strange at other points. I would recommended this book to anyone that likes Shakespeare or likes kind of mysterious books. This is also a quick and easy book so if you needed an extra historica ...more
Kate Pye
May 30, 2016 Kate Pye rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book was pretty boring and didn't have any action the influenced the book. The author had the right idea but just couldn't pull it off. Over all it was just super boring and pointless
Kristen McDermott
This young adult novel follows the adventures of an Elizabethan orphan named Widge, who is sold into service to an unscrupulous theater director. Widge knows the new art of shorthand, and he is ordered to attend a performance of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Globe Theatre, copy down the text of the play, and return it to his master, who will mount an unauthorized production. But Widge is discovered by the players, who take him in as an apprentice.
Blackwood has done his theater-history homework, an
This book was different than my usual literature.

Yes, it is historical fiction. Yes, it has a bit of mystery in it. Yes, both are genres that I avidly read. But these two genres in this particular book was different.

And I think it was because of the theater aspect.

I don't usually read about the theater. And I didn't know much about Shakespeare, the theater, or the process of being a prentice or an actor back in the 16th century before I read this book. I did know that women weren't allowed to pe
The other John
Despite it's klugy beginning, this one's a pretty good book. The premise is that there's this orphan lad, Widge, who's apprenticed to this odd doctor who had developed a form of shorthand. Widge is the guinea pig in this project and indeed is the only one who knows how to write in this unique script. Another man, one Simon Bass, reads about the good doctor's method and arranges to buy out Widge's apprenticeship. You see, Mr. Bass owns a company of players and he's looking for some good material ...more
Simon Devisser
May 30, 2016 Simon Devisser rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was all right was not intrigued
May 31, 2016 Sydney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


After an orphan boy named Widge is commanded by his master to write down Shakespeare's Hamlet in a secret handwriting called charactery that only he knows, it's clear that obedience is obligatory. But when he is adopted into Shakespeare's theater troupe and befriends the players, he starts to have second thoughts. He knows that what he has been asked to do is wrong, and in the end, he must decide. Will Widge carry out orders, or remain loyal to the other players?

Attaining the status of Smithson
Stella  ☢FAYZ☢ Chen
Feb 16, 2013 Stella ☢FAYZ☢ Chen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
Had to read this in grade 6. Two words: Le creys.
Robert Moushon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sydney Markson
I felt that the Shakespeare Stealer was not a good book because I usually did not understand what was happening in the scenes. This is a book about a boy who is taken to a new master who gives him the task of stealing the play Hamlet from Shakespeare himself, but the boy gets caught doing so and has to pretend to have been an interested actor wanting to become an actor(So he would not get hit). Over the coarse of the book he finds himself falling in love with acting and wants to be apart of the ...more
Carolyn Shields
Apr 14, 2015 Carolyn Shields rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 04, 2015 Johnny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was awful. I had to read it for our reading groups in L.A. The most eventful thing in the book in my opinion is when Widge found out the Julian was actually a girl. The beginning of the book was boring, but by the middle it got better, but the ending went right back down hill again. I would not suggest reading this book.
Jennifer Siddiqui
This book is written for middle grade children,but can be confusing due to its old style language. I found the book interesting and learned some things I did not know about Shakespeare.
Alexander Hutchison
I really didn't enjoy this book. The way that the events happened just really didn't work with me.
Sarah Kron
Jul 06, 2016 Sarah Kron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the time of William Shakespeare, Widge goes from being an orphan, to an apprentice (twice over) with some ethically unsound orders from his masters in the process, involving his own experiences behind the scenes and on the stage of The Globe Theatre. I really enjoyed this story, and even found myself supremely shocked at the two big plot twists that occurred, one in the middle of the novel and the other near the end. I think that Blackwood did a great job bringing in what I assume to be d ...more
Bᴏᴏᴋ ● Oᴡʟᴇᴛ
May 03, 2015 Bᴏᴏᴋ ● Oᴡʟᴇᴛ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who enjoy mystery and historical fiction
Recommended to Bᴏᴏᴋ ● Oᴡʟᴇᴛ by: School
Good book. It was interesting and a very quick read. 57% as a rating.
I by no means loved it, but it was fine. Better than I thought it would be anyways... :)
Had to read it for school (yep, I don't usually read books about Shakespeare).

Setting: London, Late 1500s to Early 1600s - the Globe Theatre

Interesting plot actually and I enjoyed how the Shakespearian English world was introduced.

My favorite part of the book? ((see below only if you already read the book (hence the 'view spoiler')))
(view sp
The book follows Widge, a young orphan who is spectacular at writing. He is bought by several masters. The first teaches him a way to write super quick, so that Widge may copy down quickly as the master dictates. Widge is then bought by a master named Simon Bass, who wants to put Widge's skills to good use. Simon wants Widge to attend Hamlet and copy down the play, word-for-word, so that Simon's company (a group that performs plays) may perform it themselves and earn money. However, Widge's plan ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookleggers
Young Widge, an orphan, has never had an easy life, first being placed in an orphanage and then as an apprentice to Dr. Bright. At the orphanage he learns how to care for and defend himself. From Dr. Bright, a clergyman and healer of sorts, he learns how to write a form of shorthand, which he uses to steal sermons from other ministers for the lazy doctor. This skill makes him valuable enough to be sold to a new master, a theatrical manager, who orders him to attend a performance of Shakespeare's ...more
Feb 23, 2016 Hannah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s
Jun 11, 2014 Waverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
probably one of the best well-written books I've ever read. The beginning was terrible and kind of clunky but it got better as it went on. I was a bit frustrated with the main character, Widge. He was very...slow and unintelligent to the point it was irratating. But I loved how his character developed and how he learned of the oddity of friendship and love that was so unfamiliar to him. I don't know why but the story touched me in a strange way. It was comforting to find that even he could learn ...more
Maggie Burgess
Read this one to support my Global Reading Challenge team, and I liked it a lot more than I expected to! It grabbed me quickly (despite other reviewers saying it had a slow start), and I found myself having a hard time stopping at the end of a chapter because almost every chapter ended in a cliffhanger!

Unfortunately, I don't think I could use this book even with my 5th graders because they would get lost in the language. It would take some strong/high elementary school readers I think to really
Rated PG.

Did you ever wonder whether people plagiarized Shakespeare's work? After all, he was the Bard!

Travel back in time to a crueler and more dangerous world in which young boys, particularly orphan boys, could be sold as apprentices to unethical masters without payment or protection. Meet Widge, one such boy, who is purchased by men who teach him how to write in shorthand and steal others' work--and then sic him on Shakespeare.

When Widge gets to London, though, he finds himself in a quand
Jun 15, 2016 Verena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
I almost didn't remember reading this book when I found it in my bookshelf but now that I think of it, it was one of the first books that I ever read in English. But it's about Shakespeare, so it's not bad.
May 05, 2015 SophiaB rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished The Shakespeare Stealer. This is a fast moving historical book by Gary Blackwood. It is about an orphan that ends up becoming an actor. He does not have the ability to read or to write, but he does have to follow orders. Shakespeare has a part in the Globe Theater but has to play a part of his own life.

I really liked this book because it was a mystery if Shakespeare would get the part of Hamlet that he wanted. There was a lot of things that I didn’t expect while I was reading.
Jorge Macias
This is a great book if you know Shakespeare and like his plays.This takes place in 1587 when Shakespeare wrote his play "Hamlet". I like the fact that they use the historical language they used back when Shakespeare was around but could be rather difficult to understand.The conflict was good as it was self vs. self.In this case a boy gets raised by a mean man that wants to steal Shakespeare's script but is offered to be in the play by Shakespeare himself and has to decide to join Shakespeare or ...more
Dec 30, 2015 Selena.Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This month I read "The Shakespeare Stealer" by Gary Blackwood. I think that this was a good book. In the beginning I thought it was a little boring but as it progressed it started to get more interesting. Widge ended up becoming friends with the boys in the company. My favorite was part was when Widge found out that Julian was actually a girl.
I think that the ending was good. Falconer was killed by Widge's mentor. This was great for Widge because he was scared of Falconer. Throughout the stor
Gavneet Bhandal
pretty interesting
London, England. Widge is an orphan whoâs been apprenticed to a master who trains him to use a special shorthand for transcription of his speeches. Widge is sold to another man and it turns out his duty is to use the shorthand to take down the play of Hamlet as itâs being performed in Globe Theater so his new masterâs theater group can perform it and make money. But Widge gets so caught up in the play he misses several lines. On a second attempt, he loses the notebook, and fearing the wrath of h ...more
Jan 19, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the twists and turns in this book. Each chapter ended with a cliff-hanger. It was a good book to read aloud as a bed time story for my daughter.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: The Shakespeare Stealer 1 2 Jan 22, 2013 08:10PM  
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He grew up in rural Cochranton, Western Pennsylvania. He attended school in a one room schoolhouse. He graduated with a B.A. in English from Grove City College in Pennsylvania. While a college student, Blackwood published his first short story, Cliffs of Gold, in Twelve/ Fifteen magazine. Blackwood's first book was The Lion and the Unicorn, which he published when he was nineteen. Blackwood sets h ...more
More about Gary L. Blackwood...

Other Books in the Series

The Shakespeare Stealer (3 books)
  • Shakespeare's Scribe (Shakespeare Stealer, #2)
  • Shakespeare's Spy (Shakespeare Stealer, #3)

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“This business of friendship was a curious thing, almost as difficult to learn as the busuness of acting. Sometimes you were expected to tell the truth, to express your thoughts and your feelings, and then other times what was wanted was a lie, a bit of disguise.” 15 likes
“Besides, there are other concerns. Suppose this—What did you call him?” “Falconer.” “Suppose this Falconer sells the play to a printer, who publishes it and has it registered. Then the Chamberlain’s Men lose all legal right to perform it ourselves.” “Oh. I didn’t ken.” “We generally delay publication as long as possible. Some companies care little for registrations or rights, and to print the play is the same as saying ‘Here it is, and welcome to it.’ Yet if we don’t publish it ourselves, someone will sell a pirated version. It’s a tricky and an unfair business.” “Aye, I see that now.” I felt more ashamed than ever of the part I’d played in the whole affair. I wanted to believe that we still might retrieve the play book, but knowing Falconer, I did not hold out much hope. Even if we did catch up with him, he was not likely to just apologize and hand it over. By the time we reached St. Paul’s and turned on to Aldersgate Street, I was sweating and trembling as if in the grip of the ague. But with the gate in sight, I managed to push myself yet a little farther. A ragged, legless beggar sat by the gate. Mr. Armin crouched and dropped a” 0 likes
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