The stratagems and occurrences of Shakespeare's life are slightly bare, so it is a wonder to note that Pearson has managed to recreate an eventful life story from the embers of anonymity. Of course, the strange workings and style of this master of theatre dominate proceedings and one almost waits in earnest for the famous lines that permeate the narrative with such beauty.
The biography is quite extensively detailed and covers all of Shakespeare's life from the very first beginnings as a 'horse boy' at the theatres to his long drawn accomplished mastery that took some time to establish itself but which remained almost to the very end. It is certainly evident that Shakespeare was always possessed of a sound business mind and acumen that was well coupled with his literary talents that always proved him in good stead in later life. The tracing of his long and star- studded career is rather painstakingly covered by Pearson although an element of mystery is still retained, some facts will obviously never be known.
The life of the Globe is given the obvious importance and the figures which surrounded Shakespeare in his career are also repeatedly mentioned. His family is given short shrift, though that is understandable as so little is known on these figures.
The music is admirably suited to the cause; soft notes of Orlando Gibbons and Lawes make for ravishing accompaniment to the narrative. I found the final chapter of the book very moving, not just because it contains an element of drama but for its true honesty, something that is conspicuously lacking in many biographies on this towering figure. It is indeed as Boswell said in his epitaph that concludes the biography:
He was not of an age….but for all time
Copyright © 2001 by Gerald Fenech.