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Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  308 ratings  ·  89 reviews
An in-depth look at the science behind the creative methods Shakespeare used to kill off his characters.

In Death By Shakespeare, Kathryn Harkup, best-selling author of A is for Arsenic and expert on the more gruesome side of science, turns her expertise to Shakespeare and the creative methods he used to kill off his characters. Is death by snakebite really as serene as Cl
...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 5th 2020 by Bloomsbury SIGMA (first published March 5th 2020)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Elizabeth
Magnificent attention to detail! This book offers an amazing look at the science behind the deaths in Shakespeare’s plays.

But let’s start at the beginning. Before even going into Shakespeare’s literary treatment of death, this book explores the idea of death as it would have been understood in Shakespeare’s day. This was a time when public executions were common occurrences, and theatre-goers who would watch Romeo and Juliet die on the stage might just as easily have witnessed actual deaths on
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Lou
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Death By Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts is a fun romp through the multitude of methods Shakespeare utilised to kill off his characters, and although it's been quite some time since I've read one of his classic plays I thought this sounded original and intriguing. It turned out to be right up my street as both a true crime and fictional crime enthusiast. Scientist (chemist) Kathryn Harkup pens a fascinating and outstanding study in which she analyses the gory details of deat ...more
Avani ✨
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
'Death By Shakespeare' written by Kathryn Harkup is a historical non-fiction which focuses on the science behind the creative and innovative methods Shakespeare had used in his plays to kill his characters.

In this book we see various plays ranging from Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth to Cleopatra and the author has very informatively analysed each and every death. Did Cleopatra's snakebite seem as easy as it was portrayed? We see how each and every death would actually play out in real world.

I liked h
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Lauren Stoolfire
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings, and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup is a fascinating look at the history and and the science behind the deaths in Shakespeare's classic plays. She also provides an excellent look at the his world and that of the theater of the period. Each chapter in this book covers a type of death that appears in Shakespeare's work and tries to answer the how behind them as well as how it translates i
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Naomi's Bookshelf
Death by Shakespeare is a comprehensive look at how characters die in Shakespeare. Each chapter of this book covered a different method of death which I found very interesting. It was so detailed and no one was overlooked. This is the second book I have read by Kathryn Harkup and I have found her to be very concise and well-informed. I appreciate how each manner of death is looked at in real life as well as in Shakespeare’s work. An unexpected pleasure was discovering how Shakespeare lived in th ...more
Moumita
Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
You read Shakespeare's plays, novels and other works or you had read them in schools or colleges.. right ?? and then you are well aware how he is lyrical in killing off his characters by poisoning, stabbing, through suicide and what not !!
And this book Death by Shakespeare acts as reference guide to why Shakespeare killed his characters like he did..
As I said in my earlier post that it's not a fictional, but a well researched work by Kathryn.

Was death by snakebite as serene as Shakespeare mak
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Jane
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
William Shakespeare is a cultural phenomenon. He has been credited with creating a vast amount of new words. His plays are performed regularly as well as countless movies created about them.
To write a book about just one aspect of his plays is a feat but Kathryn Harkup has achieved this task. She has documented the deaths in Shakespeare and explained if they could have happened as written.
I especially liked the titles of her chapters. She goes over every death from murders, poisons, suicides,
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Elaine
Apr 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley, non-fic
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Death By Shakespeare.

When I saw the hook had to do with death and dismemberment in Shakespeare, I quickly sent in a request.

I love all things dark, deadly and morbid.

This was a fascinating and insightful look at the works of Shakespeare, but in a way I've never thought of.

There were so many things I didn't know about Shakespeare; I did know his inspiration for MacBeth and Romeo and Juliet came from previous works, but I didn't know that was the case for
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Steve Walker
Rating of 4.95. Excellent discussion of Death in the Context of Shakespeare's plays and what his fellow citizens experienced living in Tudor London. The only thing missing, for me at least, was photos of staged plays to accompany discussion of the various types of death. ...more
Cheryl Gatling
There’s a cartoon going around showing the short versions of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. In the cartoon version, they all end alike: Everyone dies. That’s an exaggeration, but there is plenty of death in Shakespeare’s plays, as, author Kathryn Harkup says, there was in Shakespeare’s life. The late 1500s and early 1600s were a time of primitive medical care. Accidents, fights, childbirth, and epidemics took people out on a regular basis. The average life expectancy was 38 years.

Harkup’s goal
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Meg (fairy.bookmother)
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love reading books that provide some kind of external context about other books or works -- whether it's historical context, criticism, and, in the case of Kathryn Harkup's Death by Shakespeare, scientific context. Death by Shakespeare explores the many deaths in Shakespeare's plays and provides insightful looks into how contemporaries handled disease and death, and Harkup explores these topics with clarity, empathy, and humor. Shakespeare's body of work can be daunting and difficult for moder ...more
Jess (PassportsandPaperbacks)
Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
~
As a long-term lover of Shakespeare and his characters, this book was right up my street. Kathryn Harkup takes her readers on a fantastic journey through Elizabethan and Jacobean London, intertwining science, social history and literature.

She starts by laying out Shakespeare’s life and his consequent rise to fame, giving us an insight into the living conditions he lived in and se
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Books.and.brews_
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you've ever read a play by Shakespeare, you know that many characters meet untimely ends. Kathryn Harkup has done a fantastic job entwining literature and history with analyzing the science and realisticness of the deaths in Shakespeare's works. 

While some parts are quite morbid, Harkup has presented an engaging, well thought out and researched account of the death's in these plays and the history surrounding them. 

I recommend this one for any Shakespeare fan, or anyone studying his works or
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Connie D
Fascinating and very readable investigation into the deaths in Shakespeare's works: How likely were they? How close to reality were Shakespeare's descriptions? What are the medical realities and processes of each death? Where did Shakespeare get his ideas for deaths, illnesses, and attacks?

It seems this book would fit a rare confluence of interests: Shakespeare and science/medicine/death plus Elizabethan society. I have friends who would love the medical discussions and friends who would love t
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Angie
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Full review can be found here: https://www.criminalelement.com/book-... ...more
Iris Alvino
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was extremely fun to read. I love the breakdown of each death scene and real information listed. It’s very hard to imagine what living in the Elizabethan times must have been like, surviving was luck and natural selection I’m sure. Shakespeare is a master writer and having read many of his plays, I found this book to be a must read for Shakespeare lovers.
Kez Hedges
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating!
Cynthia Troncquo
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm not very sure about this one. Where to start...
It wasn't at all what I had expected. I thought it was going to be a fun informative read, instead it was rather long and serious. I lost interest at a few parts and even skipped a couple pages here and there because it didn't catch my interest.
Despite it not being what I had expected and a bit boring at times, it was still an interesting read that thought me a few things I didn't know.
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Kate
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
For my full review click on the link below:
https://crossexaminingcrime.wordpress...
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Lynn
Mar 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Today’s post is on Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup. It is 368 pages long and is published by Bloomsbury. The cover is black with a skull and the title on it. The intended reader is someone who is interested in the world Shakespeare would have lived and wrote about. There is mild foul language, no sex, and discussion of violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead.
From the dust jacket- An in-depth look at the science behind the creative methods Sh
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John Reid
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a distractingly worthy work, even if its subject matter relates to the ending of human life. As the author says, “Every death… and the manner of it, serves a dramatic purpose (but Shakespeare’s) first loyalty was to the drama itself; historical accuracy and realism were only secondary considerations.”

In a way, I won’t tell you a lot about this book because the majority of you will be already aware of The Bard’s works and the almost inevitable deaths that occur (not that he bumps someone off
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A Home Library
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Today’s review is for Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup, published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2020. This book is nonfiction/popular science, and the author is a scientist. As I stated in my review on Instagram, readers do not need a strong background in Shakespearean works or science to get value from this book. So, don’t get scared off just yet!

The premise of this book is to explore the numerous (and sometimes creative) ways in which William Shakes
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Lafourche Parish Library
Shakespeare’s violent.

His writing, that is. People suffer, people die…even in the comedies.

In Death by Shakespeare, chemist Kathryn Harkup not only explains why William Shakespeare’s works, arguably the greatest in English literature, are so violent, but also explains how he kills people off, in a medical sense. In Death by Shakespeare, readers are taken on a behind-the-scenes journey into how and why people died in Shakespeare’s time and in Shakespeare’s works, the author’s title Death by Shake
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Julie
Mar 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings, and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup is a 2020 Bloomsbury SIGMA publication.

Incredibly Fascinating!

I am nowhere close to being an expert on Shakespeare, knowing the bare basics at best. Yet, when this book popped up on my radar, I thought it sounded interesting.

This book is a well-researched, detailed study of the various means in which Shakespeare killed off his characters, and how historically and scientifically authentic those death scenes were,
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Sohinee Reads & Reviews (Bookarlo)
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Read The Full Review on Sohinee Reads & Reviews

/ MY REVIEW /

Trigger Warning: Death

If you are familiar with Shakespeare's dramas and poetry, you would know all about the various techniques in which Shakespeare liked to kill off his characters, one creative that the other. After all, most of his plays were tragedies. Hamlet was stabbed and poisoned, Desdemona was smothered with a pillow, Lady Montague died of a brok
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مروة الجزائري
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ladies and gentlemen,
Here I present one of my top books read in 2020. Simply outstanding
In this magnificent detailed book, we read about the creative methods Shakespeare used to kill off his characters. Is death by snakebite really as serene as Cleopatra made it seem? How did Juliet appear dead for 72 hours only to be revived in perfect health? Can you really kill someone by pouring poison in their ear? How long would it take before Lady Macbeth died from lack of sleep?
You will know everything
...more
Victoria
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
In Death By Shakespeare, Kathryn Harkup,an expert on the more gruesome side of science, turns her expertise to William Shakespeare and the creative methods he used to kill off his characters. Is death by snakebite really as serene as Cleopatra made it seem? How did Juliet appear dead for 72 hours only to be revived in perfect health? Can you really kill someone by pouring poison in their ear? How long would it take before Lady Macbeth died from lack of sleep? Harkup investigates what actual even
...more
Pretty Bibliophile
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, nonfic
Death by Shakespeare was such an intriguing read! From the name itself, I knew that it had to obviously do with the deaths that occurred in Shakespeare’s plays – the hows mostly. And being a literature major with fair dabbling in the Shakespearean arts, I was of course very intrigued and my interest was piqued.

What was better though, was how the author built it up. England in those days was full of pestilence, and personal hygiene was an almost non-existent thing. So it was inevitable that vario
...more
Simone
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Death by Shakespeare was definitely not what I'd expected. I had expected to read another book that simply looked at the relevant plays (in this case all of Shakespeare's works) and analyse them into excruciating detail.

What I quickly figured out when I started this book was that I had managed to find an absolute gem: a very well rounded and perfectly executed explanation and depiction of death in
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Tiah
Jun 25, 2020 added it
~After beheadings the head would have been held up and shown to the crowd and, particularly if it was the execution of a popular or revered figure, handkerchiefs were dipped in the spilled blood as a keepsake.~

~Women's bodies tend to burn faster than men's because of the difference in fat content.~

~From the twelfth century right up until the nineteenth, it was common for accused murders to be brought to the corpse of their alleged victim and made to touch the body. It was believed that wounds re
...more
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Kathryn Harkup is a chemist and author. Kathryn completed a PhD then a postdoc at the University of York before realising that talking, writing and demonstrating science appealed far more than spending hours slaving over a hot fume-hood. Kathryn went on to run outreach in engineering, computing, physics and maths at the University of Surrey, which involved writing talks on science and engineering ...more

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