Soul of the Age

Soul of the Age

The Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare


Jonathan Bate's Soul of the Age brings us closer than ever to understanding what being Shakespeare was actually like.

How did plague turn Shakespeare from a jobbing hack into a courtly poet? How did Bottom's dream rewrite the Bible? How did Shakespeare's plays lead to the deaths of an earl and a king? And why was he the one dramatist of his generation never to be imprisoned?

Weaving a dazzling tapestry of Elizabethan beliefs and obsessions, private passions and political intrigues, Soul of the Age leads us on an exhilarating tour of the extraordinary, colourful and often violent world that shaped and informed Shakespeare's thinking. Written by one of the world's leading experts, it combines almost everything there is to know about the man and his work in one sensational narrative.

'Bate probably knows as much as any single person can know about Shakespeare ... Surprising, fresh, exhilarating, brilliant', Guardian

'Intensely enjoyable ... you find yourself gasping with pleasure' John Carey, Sunday Times

Jonathan Bate is Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick, chief editor of The RSC Shakespeare: Complete Works and the author of many books, including most recently John Clare: A Biography, which won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature and the James Tait Black Prize for Biography. A Fellow of the British Academy, he was awarded a CBE in 2006.

About the author

Jonathan Bate

Jonathan Bate is a well-known biographer, critic, broadcaster and scholar, and he is Provost of Worcester College and Professor of English Literature in the University of Oxford. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company, broadcasts regularly for the BBC, and has held visiting posts at Yale and UCLA. In the Queen's 80th Birthday Honours, he was awarded a CBE for his services to Higher Education, and in 2015 he became the youngest person to have been Knighted for services to literary scholarship.

His many publications include The Genius of Shakespeare, described by Sir Peter Hall as ‘the best modern book on Shakespeare’; a biography of the poet John Clare that won the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Prize; and, most recently, a biography of Ted Hughes that was runner-up for the Samuel Johnson Prize and, in the USA, winner of the Biographers International Organization award for the best Arts and Literature biography of 2015.

He is married to the writer Paula Byrne, and they have three children.
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