The Shakespeare Stealer
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The Shakespeare Stealer (The Shakespeare Stealer #1)

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  3,390 ratings  ·  317 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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...more
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
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
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
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
This book was selected for the June read for our girls' local library book club. They really did not like the book and did not even finish it. For that reason and just because I procrastinated, I've just now gotten around to reading it myself two months later.

Despite the poor reviews our girls gave the book, I was rather impressed by the tale. I liked the descriptions of life during that period in history and the plot was sufficiently engaging. It reminded me of a middle grade version of Sharon...more
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.
Stella  ☢FAYZ☢ Chen
Had to read this in grade 6. Two words: Le creys.
Allison C
This book was interesting in some parts, but in other parts, I felt that it was repetitive and almost as if the author was running out of things to say. Sometimes, I found myself almost wanting to put the book down and get another book. I think if there was some more humor, the book would have been more interesting and I would have enjoyed it more. Overall, I liked the plot and mostly, how events were organized in the book. I might recommend this to someone who wants to read a more interesting h...more
Even though this novel had promise I can't bring myself to give it more stars, I want to, but there were too many gaps and the author didn't have very good writing. The plot was interesting- being set in Shakespeare's time and that's mostly why I liked this book. The characters made it exciting and that's how the author got through, not because of good writing or description. The main character, even though, made the story line move along and was a very well developed character, the author didn'...more
Book Concierge
This is a very nice young adult read about honesty and trust, loyalty and friendship, family and home. Widge is plucked from the orphanage at age seven and apprenticed to Dr Bright – a parson and apothecary. His life there is better than at the orphanage, but mostly that of a servant/apprentice. Still, he learns to read and write in English and Latin, and learns basic medicine. He is also taught a form of “charactery” (i.e. stenography) that Dr Bright has invented, and with that skill Widge is s...more
The characters were really interesting and I loved how the author gave a sort of family atmosphere on the story. The story had some cool surprises like Julian actually being a girl and Nick. I don't know why but I thought Nick would be the typical Tsundere character. I just used an anime term but its the best descriptor for the type of character. A Tsundere character is one that is hard on the outside and kind on the inside. Nick was surprisingly enough not that character, he was just mean...more
Widge is delighted when Dr. Bright takes him away from the orphanage in Yorkshire at age seven to be his apprentice. Vain, melancholy and unaffectionate Dr. Bright educates Widge to read and write in English, Latin, and a kind of shorthand of Dr. Bright’s invention called “charactery,” and then sells his apprenticeship to a brooding, gruff, mysterious, silent, and deadly stranger when Widge is fourteen. Eventually Widge comes to know him as Falconer. Without hesitation Falconer marches Widge off...more
I had to read this book for school and I was like uggggg!!! This is going to be HORRIBLE!!! I was already bias and trying to nit pick everything and dislike every little detail. It had a slow and slightly confusing beginning. I was really unsure what to think. Slowly, the book began to unravel and I found myself reading faster. Trying to figure out what was going to happen next and root for my favorite character to win the nex fight!! I was intrigued and excited!! I wanted to yell at some charac...more
Just as actors would agree that comedy is hard, authors would agree that historical fiction is hard. One modern expression or viewpoint and you've risked losing your audience through slip-shot work. Luckily, Blackwood expertly navigates the world of Elizabethan England to create an exciting and well-written novel. "Widge" is prentice to an alchemist-cum-doctor who has created a form of shorthand for easy note taking. As Widge is the only person Dr. Bright has ever been able to successfully teach...more
Evelynn {The Literary Pianist}
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...more
The last book i read this summer is shakespeare stealer by Gary Blackwood. This was about a young boy Widge that was placed in orphanage at a very young age when his mother died, the orphanage was ran by Mistress MacGregor. Widge desired for someday a real family to claim him as there own, as and orphan child would have. At the age of seven widge's desire became reality, a rector named Dr. timothy Bright from a nearby village was looking for a apprentice and mistress macgergor suggested widge an...more
Marika Gillis
Widge has no parents and is living in an orphanage in England during the time of Shakespeare when he is apprenticed to a clergyman who teaches him a shorthand he has invented called Charactery. When Simon Bass, owner of a company of players, hears about the rector's secret coded language, he offers a very high price for Widge (who can write the shorthand) and it soon becomes apparent what Bass intends for Widge to do with his special skill. Bass demands that Widge attend a play, Hamlet by Willia...more

The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood
Historic Fiction

The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood, Scholastic Inc. copyright 1989, Cambridge N.Y. ISBN 0439113105 (soft cover) $9.99

Travelling back in time to England in the late 1500’s we find ourselves immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the city of London. Think bed pans being dumped into drain ditches that run right along the sidewalk! The saying “heads up” takes on new meaning for me. Know that while reading this story there are tim...more
Robert Sanders
A combination of childhood wonder, different accents, and the wonder of the theatre! This book tells the story of an orphan boy with a curious name to fulfill a curious task; to copy down and stow away with Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Tormented by a mysterious man, and trapped within a group of actors, his goal in frequent sight, what will he do?

One reason I liked this book was the ever-present wonder of the theatre. The mysterious actors, the beautiful dialog and scenes presented, and the often drama...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elisabeth Wheatley
NOTE TO SELF: You love MG historical fiction. Read more of it. That's an order.

The Shakespeare Stealer is the story of Widge, an orphan boy in Elizabethan England who's had it pretty rough his whole life. He is the charge of a somewhat unpleasant and lazy doctor who has taught him a unique form of coded shorthand that can be written as fast as words are spoken. This makes Widge a valuable asset to an unscrupulous man called Falconer who wants to steal Shakespeare's newest play, The Tragedy of Pr...more
Lee (Rally the Readers)
Also posted on Rally The Readers.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Shakespeare Stealer. While it’s probably more of a middle-grade read than a young adult one, I found the story to be very charming, as well as a nice introduction to Shakespeare and his times for younger readers.

As soon as I read that the main character’s name, Widge, was short for Pigwidgeon, I couldn’t help but think of Pigwidgeon the owl from Harry Potter. Widge is a young orphan who’s never really belonged anywhere. Even when...more
Bridgette Redman
I have long been a fan of novels set in medieval times. While it has not at all surprised me that there are an increasing number of books written in those periods, I have been surprised at the growing number of children’s books set far back in time. It’s a trend I’m all in favor of—perhaps history will start to become fascinating to people at an even younger age.

I was in Barnes and Noble earlier this week looking for a gift, when this book caught my eye in the children’s section. OK, I’ll confes...more
Kalpana Ganeshan
I chose the Shakespeare Stealer to read because it sounded interesting and action packed. I was not disappointed. The book had me intrigued as there were unexpected surprises in almost every chapter. This made me want to read on. Although there was lots of action, it was also well paced so I wasn't confused. The author also put a lot of effort into making the characters and their personalities,so even though this story took place long ago, they didn't sound fake or cheesy. I felt like I knew the...more
Jeni Enjaian
A review from my old blog... (for the whole series)

Once again I have discovered another young adult series that I absolutely love and wish had been around when I was that age. Of course, I didn't miss out completely because obviously I got to read the books now. :D

The series is narrated by Widge, who later takes the name of James Pope, an orphan who through a series of events ends up as a player in William Shakespeare's acting company.

Blackwood though writing for a young audience infuses the boo...more
Tony Debellis
The book is an interesting read and keeps you on the edge of your seat, but is not very realistic at the end. A boy named Widge is hired, by Simon Bass, to steal Shakespeare's play Hamlet. He is taken in to the threader family as a prentice after being caught trying to copy down the play. He has the conflict to steal the script or stay with the family he loves, but it is not an easy choice when the script is locked up and Falconer, Simon Bass's servant, is on Widge's tail. Simon Bass ends up hir...more
Widge is an orphan that was apprenticed to a doctor/minister that used him to copying other people's sermons. He taught Widge a type of shorthand that allows him to quickly copy a sermon as the minister is delivering it. This talent leads Widge's apprenticeship to be sold to a man that wants to use him to steal Shakespeare's latest play, Hamlet. Widge is sent to London with Falconer, a henchman that is to keep an eye on him while Widge attends the play at the Globe and copies it. The first perfo...more
At first glance, this novel would seem a fine middle-grade introduction to Shakespeare. And it would be, save for one massive omission: Shakespeare himself. This first novel in a series promises much, but delivers on very little. The orphaned Widge is forced to learn a kind of shorthand by his first master, and is soon bought by the manager of a second-rate acting company. Widge is next charged with an important task: copy Shakespeare’s Hamlet. A passive main character, Widge attempts to comply...more
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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...
The Year of the Hangman Shakespeare's Scribe (Shakespeare Stealer, #2) Shakespeare's Spy (Shakespeare Stealer, #3) Around the World in 100 Days The Shakespeare Stealer Series (The Shakespeare Stealer #1-3)

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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.” 12 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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