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About the Author-
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, and was baptised on 26 April 1564. His father was a glove maker and wool merchant and his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a well-to-do local land owner. Shakespeare was probably educated in Stratford's grammar school. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had a daughter the following year and twins in 1585.
Shakespeare's theatrical life seems to have commenced around 1590. We do know that he was part of the Lord Chamberlain's Company, which was renamed the King's Company in 1603 when James I succeeded to the throne. The Company acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London, near the banks of the Thames - the Globe and the Blackfriars.
Shakespeare's poetry was published before his plays, with two poems appearing in 1593 and 1594, dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Most of Shakespeare's sonnets were probably written at this time as well.
Records of Shakespeare's plays begin to appear in 1594, and he produced roughly two a year until around 1611. His earliest plays include Henry VI and Titus Andronicus. A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Richard II all date from the mid to late 1590s. Some of his most famous tragedies were written in the early 1600s; these include Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Antony & Cleopatra. His late plays, often known as the Romances, date from 1608 onwards and include The Tempest.
Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623 and is known as 'the First Folio'.
- On an uncharted, storm-swept island, the magician Prospero uses his powers and those of the flighty spirit Ariel to wreck the ship of his wicked brother, Antonio, stranding its crew and passengers. Meanwhile, through more magic, Prospero's daughter, Miranda, has fallen in love with Ferdinand, son of the of king of Naples. This 2001 BBC Radio 3 production starring the late Philip Madoc (Prospero) and Nina Wadia (Ariel) sounds timeless in its traditional use of stage rhythms and diction. This is not an audiobook one mows the lawn to. For American ears it may take a little concentration to pick up all the words, and it may be worthwhile to read along (as this reviewer did) to maximize the pleasure of listening to one of Shakespeare's most romantic and fanciful works. B.P. (c) AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine
Starred review from March 4, 1996
Prospero-like in their artistry, Spirin's dazzling watercolors dominate this retelling of Shakespeare's final play. Shaped like altar panels fit for a Renaissance church or palace, the illustrations are romantic, regal and magical, richly interpreting the play's themes of betrayal, revenge and all-conquering love. A wispy ethereal air pervades island scenes, beautifully suggesting the atmosphere of enchantment, while Antonio and the King of Naples are pictured in brocade and velvet, the stench of power upon them. The other characters, too, are both otherworldly and very much flesh and blood. Especially well rendered is the monster Caliban, shown here as part man, part beast, part mythical creature, a sense of evil glee lighting his features. While this prose adaptation does not, of course, retain the full magic of the Bard's work, Beneduce nonetheless provides an intelligent, gripping story. Several passages from Shakespeare introduced at key points give a taste of the original. Symbols and small pictures integrated into the text further enhance the lavish presentation. All ages.
- THE TEMPEST opens with the titular violent storm at sea, complete with booming thunder, driving rain, and the panicked shouts of people onboard a ship about to be wrecked. It's just one of the ways that the sound medium is used to especially good effect throughout the production. Seagulls cry, soothing lute music plays, and the listener can easily imagine the setting. Sir Ian McKellen wields his commanding voice masterfully as the wizard Prospero reigns over his island dukedom, orchestrating events. The other performers are also compelling, particularly Scott Handy who, as the spirit Ariel, is called upon to sing as well as act. It's a magical production, enhanced (but not overshadowed) by McKellen's star power. J.M.D. (c) AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine
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