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Download Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, by James Shapiro Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (510 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James Shapiro Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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For nearly two centuries, the authorship of William Shakespeare’s plays has been challenged by writers and artists as diverse as Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, Helen Keller, Orson Welles, Malcolm X, and Sir Derek Jacobi. How could a young man from rural Warwickshire, lacking a university education, write some of the greatest works in the English language? How do we explain the seemingly unbridgeable gap between Shakespeare’s life and works?

Contested Will unravels the mystery of Shakespeare’s authorship, retracing why and when doubts first arose, what’s at stake in the controversy for how we value Shakespeare’s achievement, and why, in the end, there can be no doubt about who wrote the plays.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The book is rich with insight and analysis. Shapiro’s examination…is sensitive and convincing.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • Contested Will is a masterful work of literary history, an empathetic chronicle of eccentricity, and a calmly reasoned vindication of ‘the Stratford man.’”

    Boston Globe

  • “With lucid writing for the common reader, with sense, and with respect toward those with whom he rightly disagrees, Shapiro tells how this whole mishegas got started, and then, with unbelievable patience, shows how it has not a shred of a breath of a hope of being anything.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Entertainingly combative.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “As Shapiro admirably demonstrates, William Shakespeare emerges with his name and reputation intact.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Shapiro’s lucid and fair-minded account and McCaddon’s exemplary narration combine to make this work accessible to anyone who loves Shakespeare.”


  • “A thorough, engaging work.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Katrina | 1/18/2014

    " Very throrough. I now understand how Shakespeare's authorship came to be questioned. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Mark | 1/16/2014

    " Really quite a fascinating book. Really, authorship is not the issue here as much as the issues that underly it: class and the sense of self, the role of autobiography in the writing life, the sense of modernity. A compelling look at the people and concepts that have driven the authorship debate, with a final solid defense of the man from Stratford. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Claire Haeg | 1/9/2014

    " This is a less compelling account that his previous (fabulous) book "1599" (which I'd recommend to anyone, BTW!) I thought Geraldine Greer's "Shakespeare's Wife" added some editional evidence to Shapiro's already excellent case for Shakespeare being Shakespeare. Worth reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by John Kenneth Fisher | 1/1/2014

    " Gives a strong retelling of the origins of various anti-stradfordian conspiracy theories. It doesn't waste time debunking them - just seeing the silly premises that spawned them is enough, and it's an enjoyable retelling of how a conspiracy theory spreads and mutates. "

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About the Author

James Shapiro is professor of English at Columbia University, where he has been the most admired lecturer in the university. He has written several scholarly books on Shakespeare. He lives in New York City.