Books on English Drama


September 5, 2022

822. Books on English drama

Many plays in the English language are neglected here. The lists I consulted only provided books about Shakespeare. Please search for books on other fine plays and playwrights.

Further Reading:

Harold Bloom Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, 1998.

Critic Harold Bloom provides commentary on every play by William Shakespeare. He uses his entire lifetime of reading, teaching, and writing about the plays to inform his views. He reaches the startling conclusion that Shakespeare is responsible for the way humans view themselves today.

Ron Rosenbaum Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups, 2006.

Once you grasp what is known about Shakespeare, the next step is to delve into the thoughts of the scholars, directors, and actors who struggle to understand him. Diving beneath the surface meaning of the plays, these people search for the real influences on Shakespeare and uncover previously lost information about him.

James Shapiro Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future, 2020.

James Shapiro looks at how Americans have used Shakespeare’s works as symbols and guides. People on both sides of the political divide claim Shakespeare as their own, and Shapiro provides examples throughout history. As a striking example, Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth were both obsessed with Shakespeare’s plays. He ends the book describing the 2017 Central Park performance in which a Trump-like figure was the assassination victim in Julius Caesar.

Bill Bryson Shakespeare: The World as a Stage, 2008.

Bill Bryson applies his research and writing skills to untangle the skein of myth and fact surrounding the life of William Shakespeare. Using his trademark wit, Bryson uniquely uncovers what we know about the Bard.

For more information on the Further Reading series, see Further Reading: Start Here.

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