Books

Sonnets

William Shakespeare

‘Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom’

Sonnets are for romantics, starry-eyed lovers and ardent hearts. And Shakespeare’s sonnets are the best ever written.

But this is why they are also for cynics, for star-crossed lovers and for those who know the anguish of unrequited love.

Some of them are written to a young man, some of them to a woman. And although the poems are full of mystery – why did Shakespeare write them, what was his sexuality? – each one speaks to us from across the centuries of love, hate and the intensity of being alive.

Includes exclusive content: In the 'Backstory' you can find a short, handy, funny guide to everything you might want to know about Shakespeare and his sonnets.

‘This is a crazy, all-consuming, feverish and sweaty love; love, in all its uncut, full-strength intensity; an adolescent love’ Don Paterson, Guardian

Classic BBC Radio Shakespeare: Romances

William Shakespeare (and others)

Three classic radio productions from the BBC archives starring Hannah Gordon, Tim Pigott-Smith, Paul Scofield and a host of celebrated acting talent.

These three legendary plays, performed by some of the best-known theatrical actors of the 20th Century, are the perfect way to commemorate England's greatest dramatist.

The Winter's Tale
One man's consuming jealousy threatens to destroy both himself and those around him, but his actions arouse a passionate sense of honour, love, justice and self-sacrifice in members of his Court and family. First broadcast in 1982, starring Ronald Pickup as Leontes, with Hannah Gordon as Hermione and John Gielgud as Time.

Pericles
Pericles is haunted by Fate, buffeted by storms, driven from country to country and cruelly separated from his wife and daughter. Having endured the waywardness of Fortune, will he be reunited with his family? First broadcast in 1981, starring Tim Pigott-Smith as Pericles and Angharad Rees as Marina.

The Tempest
Set on an enchanted island ruled by the sorcerer Prospero, this spellbinding tale of magic, illusion, forgiveness and repentance is one of Shakespeare's greatest plays. First broadcast in 1974, starring Paul Scofield as Prospero and Patrick Stewart as Caliban.

Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House and featuring the BBC Drama Repertory company, with specially composed music, this is classic radio drama at its finest. Duration: 7 hours 35 mins approx.

Classic BBC Radio Shakespeare: Comedies

William Shakespeare (and others)

Three classic radio productions from the BBC archives starring Nigel Hawthorne, Miriam Margolyes, Geraldine McEwan and a host of celebrated acting talent.

These three legendary plays, performed by some of the best-known theatrical actors of the 20th Century, are the perfect way to commemorate England's greatestdramatist.

The Taming of the Shrew: The controversial comedy about the battle of the sexes and a very unconventional marriage, starring Fenella Fielding as Katherine, with Miriam Margolyes as Bianca and Paul Daneman as Petruchio.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: One of Shakespeare'sbest-loved plays, this tale of warring fairies, eloping lovers and the magic and madness of love has bewitched audiences since its very first performance. Starring Nigel Hawthorne as Oberon with Maureen O'Brien as Titania.

Twelfth Night: Mistaken identity and a tangled love triangle lead to confusion and, ultimately, happiness in this comic masterpiece. Starring Dorothy Tutin as Viola, with Geraldine McEwan as Olivia and Stephen Murray as Malvolio.

Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House and featuring the BBC Drama Repertory company, with specially composed music including a score from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, this is classic radio drama at its finest.Duration: 7 hours approx.

Escape to Shakespeare's World: A Colouring Book Adventure

William Shakespeare (and others)

A beautiful, intricate colouring book, full of romantic, inspirational and dramatic quotes from the favourite plays and poems of William Shakespeare. An ideal choice for older children and adults, in a beautiful square format designed to fit comfortably into handbag, briefcase or schoolbag. Gloriously intricate illustrations provide a soothing occupation for the millions of fans of adult colouring books. A perfect way to celebrate Shakespeare 400.

The Tempest

William Shakespeare

We are used to reading the work of Shakespeare with modernised spelling, footnotes and glosses - effectively in translation. This new edition of Shakespeare's last play, The Tempest, offers an authentic reading experience, allowing us to experience the unmediated original. Designed as a beautiful, slim volume, this edition takes us back to Shakespeare's own time and allows us to view his unforgettable words afresh, as he originally wrote them.

Classic BBC Radio Shakespeare: Tragedies

William Shakespeare (and others)

Three powerful radio productions from the BBC archives starring Ian McKellen, Ronald Pickup and Paul Scofield and a host of celebrated acting talent . These three legendary plays, performed by some of the best-known theatrical actors of the 20th Century, are the perfect way to commemorate England's greatest dramatist.

Romeo and Juliet: The Montagues and the Capulets are sworn enemies, so when Romeo Montague falls in love with Juliet Capulet, tragedy ensues. This fateful tale of two young star-crossed lovers isone of Shakespeare's most popular dramas. First broadcast in 1970, starring Ian McKellen as Romeo.

Hamlet: One of the most powerful, influential and thrilling tragedies in the English language, and the story of Prince Hamlet and his quest for vengeance never fails to enthral. First broadcast in 1971, starring Ronald Pickup as the Prince of Denmark.

Macbeth: The notorious 'Scottish Play' is a gripping tale of vaulting ambition, witchcraft, madness and murder that has kept generations of audiences spellbound. First broadcast in 1966,starring Paul Scofield as Macbeth and Peggy Ashcroft as Lady Macbeth.

Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House and featuring the BBC Drama Repertory company, with specially composed music including a score from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, this is classic radio drama at its finest. Duration: 7 hours 30 mins approx.

Is This a Dagger Which I See Before Me?

William Shakespeare

'And when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars.'

This collection of Shakespeare's soliloquies, including both old favourites and lesser-known pieces, shows him at his dazzling best.

One of 46 new books in the bestselling Little Black Classics series, to celebrate the first ever Penguin Classic in 1946. Each book gives readers a taste of the Classics' huge range and diversity, with works from around the world and across the centuries - including fables, decadence, heartbreak, tall tales, satire, ghosts, battles and elephants.

Troilus and Cressida

William Shakespeare (and others)

Inspired by Homer's Iliad and Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Shakespeare's play explores heroism, love and betrayal against the backdrop of the Trojan War. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by R. A. Foakes with an introduction by Colin Burrow.

'Lechery, still wars and lechery; nothing else holds fashion'

It is the seventh year of the Trojan War. The Greek army is camped outside Troy and Achilles - their military hero - refuses to fight. Inside the city Troilus, the Trojan King's son, falls in love with Cressida, whose father has defected to the Greek camp. In an exchange of prisoners the couple are split - they believe forever. The honour of lovers and soldiers is tested as a fierce battle begins and heroes must prove their worth.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to the play, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

The Two Noble Kinsmen

William Shakespeare (and others)

Considered by Thomas de Quincey to be 'perhaps the most superb work in the language', The Two Noble Kinsmen is set in Athens and was co-written by Shakespeare with John Fletcher. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by N. W. Bawcutt with an introduction by Peter Swaab.

'Once, he kissed me.
I loved my lips the better ten days after'

When Theseus, Duke of Athens, learns that the ruler of Thebes has killed three noble kings he swears to take revenge. But after Athens triumphs over the rival city, Theseus is struck by the bravery of two Theban cousins and orders his surgeons to attend to them. Soon, the cousins' lifelong friendship is threatened, as both become overwhelmed with love for the duke's beautiful sister.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to the play, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

Henry VIII

William Shakespeare (and others)

William Shakespeare's Henry VIII is a compelling history play, recreating a crucial moment in the Tudor dynasty, and the events that marked the beginning of the English Reformation. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by A.R. Humphreys, with an introduction by C.M.S. Alexander.

'O, how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours!'

Conspiracies and intrigue are rife in the court of Henry VIII as the Duke of Buckingham is executed for treason, having been tricked by his enemy Cardinal Wolsey. And when the King falls in love with Anne Boleyn and decides to divorce his wife, Katherine of Aragon, he causes an irrevocable rift with the Catholic Church. After the King's secret marriage to Anne, courtiers fall in and out of favour and deaths abound, with far-reaching consequences.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to Henry VIII, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

If you enjoyed Henry VIII, you might like Richard II, also available in Penguin Shakespeare.

'If we wish to know the force of human genius we should read Shakespeare'
William Hazlitt

Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare (and others)

A tragedy of doomed love between an Egyptian queen and a ruler of Rome, William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra is edited by Emrys Jones with an introduction by René Weis in Penguin Shakespeare.

'Eternity was in our lips and eyes,
Bliss in our brows' bent'

A battle-hardened soldier, Antony is one of the three leaders of the Roman world. But he is also a man in the grip of an all-consuming passion for Cleopatra, the exotic and tempestuous queen of Egypt. And when their life of pleasure together is threatened by the encroaching politics of Rome, the conflict between love and duty has devastating consequences.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to Antony and Cleopatra, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

If you enjoyed Antony and Cleopatra, you might like Coriolanus, also available in Penguin Shakespeare.

'A kind of perfection, a sort of magic'
Patrick Stewart

Cymbeline

John Pitcher (and others)

One of Shakespeare's late, fantastical plays, Cymbeline considers human love and art through the thrilling wonder of the Renaissance theatre. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited with an introduction by John Pitcher.

'Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages'

The King of Britain, enraged by his daughter's disobedience in marrying against his wishes, banishes his new son-in-law. Having fled to Rome, the exiled husband makes a foolish wager with a villain he encounters there - gambling on the fidelity of his abandoned wife. Combining courtly menace and horror, comedy and melodrama,Cymbeline is a moving depiction of two young lovers driven apart by deceit and self-doubt.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to the play, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

Richard III

William Shakespeare (and others)

A history play whose villainous usurper is one of William Shakespeare's most memorably cunning and sinister characters, Richard III is edited by E.A.J. Honigmann with an introduction by Michael Taylor in Penguin Shakespeare.

'Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York'

Richard of York, the bitter, deformed brother of King Edward IV, is secretly plotting to seize the throne of England. Charming and duplicitous, powerfully eloquent and viciously cruel, he is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve his goal. In his skilful manipulation of events and people - coercing the king into eliminating the Duke of Clarence, next in line to the throne; imprisoning the King's sons, princes Edward and Richard, in the Tower of London; and purging court of any who might oppose his rule - Richard is a chilling incarnation of the lure of evil and the temptation of power.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to Richard III, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

Richard III is the concluding drama in Shakespeare's cycle of plays about the Wars of the Roses, following Henry VI, Parts I, II and III.

'Exciting, funny, sexy and violent'
Sir Ian McKellen

Love's Labour's Lost

William Shakespeare (and others)

William Shakespeare's comedy Love's Labours Lost is edited with an introduction by John Kerrigan in Penguin Shakespeare.

'What fool is not so wise
To lose an oath to win a paradise?'

Ferdinand, King of Navarre and his lords Berowne, Dumaine, and Longaville agree to form an austere academy, taking a solemn to have no contact with women for three years. But when the Princess of neighbouring France arrives with her female attendants, their pledge is quickly placed under strain. Soon all are smitten and confusion abounds, as each struggles to secretly declare his love in this comedy of deception, desire and mistaken identity.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to Love's Labours Lost, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

If you enjoyed Love's Labours Lost, you might like The Merry Wives of Windsor, also available in Penguin Shakespeare.

'The most beautiful of Shakespeare's comedies'
Kenneth Branagh

Henry VI Part One

William Shakespeare (and others)

The first of Shakespeare's four plays about the Wars of the Roses, dramatizing the rivalry between power-hungry noble houses, divided by grievances inherited from the past. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by Norman Sanders with an introduction by Jane Kingsley-Smith.

'Send between the red rose and the white
A thousand souls to death and deadly night'

After the death of Henry V, the French revolt and threaten to reclaim their country from English rule. Guided by his Lord Protector, the young King Henry VI journeys to Paris to reaffirm his rule over France. But while the British battle Joan of Arc abroad, discontent is also breeding at home between the two ancient Houses of York and Lancaster.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to the play, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay by Rebecca Brown discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

Shakespeare's first tetralogy, about the Wars of the Roses, is continued by Henry VI, Parts II and III, and Richard III, all available in Penguin Classics.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

William Shakespeare (and others)

An engaging comedy of love, The Two Gentlemen of Verona deals with the conflict between friendship and romance, and features one of Shakespeare's most memorable clowns. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by Norman Sanders with an introduction by Russell Jackson.

'Except I be by Silvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale'

Leaving behind both home and beloved, a young man travels to Milan to meet his closest friend. Once there, however, he falls in love with his friend's new sweetheart and resolves to seduce her. Love-crazed and desperate, he is soon moved to commit cynical acts of betrayal, revealing how passion can prove more powerful than even the strongest loyalty owed to a friend.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to the play, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

The Tempest

William Shakespeare (and others)

Performed variously as escapist fantasy, celebratory fiction, and political allegory, The Tempest is one of the plays in which William Shakespeare's genius as a poetic dramatist found its fullest expression. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited with an introduction by Martin Butler.

'How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!'

A storm rages. Prospero, his daughter Miranda, and his monstrous servant Caliban watch from their desert island as a ship carrying the royal family is wrecked. Miraculously, all on board survive. Plotting, mistaken identities, bewitching love and drunkenness follow as the travellers explore the strange place of spirits and monsters on which they have landed. They soon begin to realize all is not as it seems, in a play whose magical setting and classical unity of time and place have inspired films as varied as Forbidden Planet, Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books, and Julie Taymor's The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren as 'Prospera'.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to The Tempest, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

If you enjoyed The Tempest, you might like The Merchant of Venice, also available in Penguin Shakespeare.

'Shakespeare, coming upon me unawares, struck me like a thunderbolt'
Hector Berlioz

Titus Andronicus

Jacques Berthoud (and others)

His extraordinarily gory and spectacularly violent revenge tragedy, William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus is edited by Sonia Massai, with an introduction by Jacques Berthoud in Penguin Shakespeare.

'Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand'

Rome is in turmoil. With the Emperor dead, his two sons, Saturninus and Bassianus, quarrel over who should succeed him; but neither are as popular as the general Titus Andronicus, returned to Rome victorious after a ten-year campaign, with Tamora, Queen of the Goths, and her three sons as his prisoners. Eschewing the throne, he endorses Saturninus as successor, and sacrifices the Queen's son Alarbus in memory of his own, lost in the war. But when the new emperor spurns Titus's amity and chooses Tamora for his wife, she quickly begins to plot a murderous revenge of barely conceivable cruelty.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to Titus Andronicus, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

If you enjoyed Titus Andronicus, you might like Macbeth, also available in Penguin Shakespeare.

'This is tragedy naked, godless and unredeemed'
Kenneth Tynan

The Merry Wives of Windsor

William Shakespeare (and others)

William Shakespeare's comic encore for one of his best-loved characters - the rascally Falstaff from Henry IV and Henry V - The Merry Wives of Windsor is edited by G.R. Hibbard with an introduction by Catherine Richardson in Penguin Shakespeare.

'We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
Wives may be merry, and yet honest too'

In need of money, the fat and foolish Falstaff devises a scheme to seduce two married women and steal their husbands' wealth. By talking to each other, however, the wives soon discover his plan and begin to plot their own revenge. Relentlessly inventive, this comic humiliation of a foolish would-be seducer is a lively, compelling and ultimately joyous celebration of the all-conquering power of laughter.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to The Merry Wives of Windsor, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

'It never yet had reader or spectator, who did not think it too soon at end'
Samuel Johnson

Pericles

William Shakespeare

Pericles was Shakespeare's first full-blown tragicomedy, the precursor to The Winter's Tale, Cymbeline and The Tempest, and one of his most popular plays in the seventeenth century. This Penguin edition is edited by Eugene Giddens.

'One sin, I know, another doth provoke;
Murder's as near to lust as flame to smoke'

Pericles, Prince of Tyre, must solve a riddle in order to marry the daughter of the King of Antioch, or be put to death. But when the answer reveals a horrific secret, the young man faces his greatest dilemma. Danger and adventure follow as Pericles flees the city to find his fortune elsewhere, in a romantic drama of families lost and reunited, evil punished and virtue rewarded.

This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to Pericles, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.

Biography

William Shakespeare was born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wrote about 38 plays (the precise number is uncertain), many of which are regarded as the most exceptional works of drama ever produced, including Romeo and Juliet (1595), Henry V (1599), Hamlet (1601), Othello (1604), King Lear (1606) and Macbeth (1606), as well as a collection of 154 sonnets, which number among the most profound and influential love poetry in English. Shakespeare died in Stratford in 1616.