The Man Who Pays The Rent



Let Dame Judi Dench take you behind the scenes of a life loving the Bard – as she shares her story with, and enduring affection for, William Shakespeare.

'A wonderful mixture of appreciation and anecdote' Financial Times, Books of the Year


‘If you love Judi Dench or Shakespeare (and most of us do), look no further’ Guardian

'Wonderfully inspiring, riveting. A delightful spell in the company of one of our greatest actresses’ Daily Mail, Books of the Year

‘Gloriously entertaining’ Observer

Taking a curtain call with a live snake in her wig...

Cavorting naked through the countryside painted green...

Acting opposite a child with a pumpkin on his head...

These are just a few of the things Dame Judi Dench has done in the name of Shakespeare.

For the very first time, Judi opens up about every Shakespearean role she has played throughout her seven-decade career, from Lady Macbeth and Titania to Ophelia and Cleopatra.

Here she reveals her behind the scenes secrets; inviting us to share in her triumphs, disasters, and backstage shenanigans, all brightened by her mischievous sense of humour and striking honesty.

Witty, provocative and inspiring, this is ultimately Judi's love letter to Shakespeare, or rather, The Man Who Pays The Rent.

‘An utterly delightful book… Shakespeare from a great actor’s perspective – that repeatedly strikes to the heart of the matter with a sharp instinctive intelligence that puts fancy-pants literary critics to shame Telegraph

‘A wonderful ode to the bardI

‘The book is pure enchantment. It swirls and dances with brilliance and mischief, so forget traditional Shakespearean criticism and analysis. Sack the Eng. Lit. professors. As never before, this book brings the subject to wild, authentic life.’ Daily Mail

‘Riveting, revealing and wittyGazette and Herald

Top 10 Sunday Times bestseller, November 2023


  • Wonderfully inspiring. A delightful spell in the company of one of our greatest and most thoughtful actresses
    Daily Mail, Books of the Year

About the author

Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench is one of the world's most celebrated actresses. She has won numerous major awards for work on both stage and screen - including an Academy Award, ten BAFTAs and a record eight Laurence Olivier Awards. In recognition of her many achievements she received an OBE in 1970, became a DBE in 1988, and in 2005 was awarded a Companion of Honour.
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