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Extended Audio Sample Shakespeare: The World as Stage Audiobook, by Bill Bryson Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.001 out of 54.001 out of 54.001 out of 54.001 out of 54.001 out of 5 4.00 (10 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bill Bryson Narrator: Bill Bryson Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2007 ISBN: 9780061555343
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William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself.

Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, from academics to eccentrics. Emulating the style of his famous travelogues, Bryson records episodes in his research, including a visit to a bunker-like basement room in Washington, DC, where the world’s largest collection of First Folios is housed.

Bryson celebrates Shakespeare as a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness, a coiner of phrases (“vanish into thin air,” “foregone conclusion,” “one fell swoop”) that even today have common currency. His Shakespeare is like no one else’s—the beneficiary of Bryson’s genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivaled in our time.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A delightful account of Shakespeare’s elusiveness—and the extraordinary lengths people have gone to to remedy it…The pairing of Bryson with Shakespeare is a happy one.”

    Times Literary Supplement (London)

  • “This season’s bestselling volume.”

    Independent (London)

  • “Bryson uses an inimitably light touch and squeezes a vast subject down into manageable proportions…He is a warm and funny guide through the whole complicated morass of Shakespearean scholarship.”

    Financial Times

  • “A consistent pleasure…accessible and intelligent. Will and Bill are a great double act.”

    Houston Chronicle

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 KU | 6/14/2011

    " It didn't answer anything I didn't suspect. He was a complicated man. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Saralyn | 6/8/2011

    " Fascinating, as are all of Bryson's books. And about Shakespeare! I loved how most of the book was about everything we don't know about Shakespeare and why we can't know it. Loved it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 6/2/2011

    " I absolutely loved this book, it gave an informative and interesting insight into the world of Shakespeare. Great style of writing and I'm now working my way through Bryson's other books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mtejeda | 5/29/2011

    " I listened to this on CD in the car and really enjoyed it. It is read by the author and is replete with tons of details -- not just about Shakespeare himself (about which little is definitively known) but about Elizabethan times in general. Fascinating, well-researched and witty. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jacqui | 5/25/2011

    " As always Bill Byson is a very entertaining read. I learned a lot about Elizabethan England. Complimented my recent reading of The Prince and the Pauper. So fascinating that that we know so little facts about Will Shakespeare and that much historical work has been insinuations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 5/19/2011

    " Not as much info on Shakespeare as I hoped (but apparently that's true for most things from this period), but a fascinating look into this time period. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Natalie | 5/13/2011

    " Bryson is one of those special authors who can make trudging through the minutia of someone's life incredibly entertaining. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Timothy | 5/9/2011

    " Fun, clear biography of Shakespeare. Boils down the details and explains how other sources vary. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tesneem | 4/30/2011

    " In true Bryson style - witty, yet still succinct and to the point. I enjoyed it a great deal. "

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About the Author
Author Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is the New York Times bestselling author of At HomeA Walk in the WoodsThe Lost ContinentMade in AmericaThe Mother Tongue, A Short History of Nearly Everything—winner of the Aventis Prize—and various other works. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, he now lives in England, where he has worked for both the Times and Independent and written for most other major British and American publications.