Jonathan Bate and Alexander Waugh moderated by Hermione Eyre.
Shakespeare’s plays and poems tell us who we are. But who is he? The question has haunted great minds – from Mark Twain to Sigmund Freud – and today it haunts Shakespeareans from actor Mark Rylance to director Deborah Warner. Even in his lifetime there was something baffling about Shakespeare: the obscure origins, the effortless achievement. For envious contemporaries he was an imposter, ‘an upstart crow’ beautified with ‘our’ feathers. Later generations went further. The humble life records of the man called Shakespeare could not account for the universal prodigy ‘Shakespeare’. For the anti-Stratfordians, as they came to be known, a better explanation than ‘genius’ was needed. All we know for certain is that William Shakespear (or Shaksper or Shaxberd) was born in Stratford in 1564, that he was an actor whose name was printed, with the names of fellow actors, in the collected edition of his plays in 1623. We know that he married Anne Hathaway and died in 1616, perhaps on his birthday, St George’s Day – and that he left an enigmatic will. The ‘Stratfordian’ case for Enigmatic Will rests on evidence, however threadbare, and on the works themselves: written unmistakably by a living breathing native of Warwickshire, whose arch-rival Ben Jonson called him ‘the Swan of Avon’. What more do we need? For anti-Stratfordians the evidence is a vacuum, and ‘the man from Stratford’ did not write a single play or poem. They argue for a more plausible Shakespeare, and have at different times proposed a host of likely contenders, including Sir Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe. Are they any closer to a solution? Join celebrated Stratfordian Jonathan Bate and anti-Stratfordian Alexander Waugh for an impassioned debate on the most beguiling and unputdownable literary mystery of them all. Read more.
FREE EVENT Join the magical storyteller and tightrope walker, Katherine Rundell, the acclaimed author of The Explorer, a story of adventure, survival and bravery set in the Amazon rainforest. The book has received amazing reviews and is set to become a classic. In this free ticketed event, Katherine will be discussing and reading extracts from the book. And at the end will run a short workshop on ‘ how to write your own story’. Suitable for children 7+ WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: ‘Katherine Rundell just gets better and better. I loved The Explorer. On one level it’s a very exciting adventure story of four children fighting for survival in the Amazon – but it’s also saying profound things about human nature and love and loss.’ Jacqueline Wilson 06/08/17 Fiona Noble’s Children’s Book of the Week in The Observer ‘It’s a gripping story of survival and the tenacity of the human spirit against all odds, but it’s also a hymn to hope, love and courage, delivered with all the warmth and wisdom we’ve come to expect from one of our most talented writers for children’ 06/08/17 Review in Sunday Telegraph Emily Bearn ‘Katherine Rundell cannot put a foot wrong . . . may go down as her best yet’ 12/08/17 Review in The Times ‘An adventure story to die for … Rundell is a class act’ Read more.