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Hamlet
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William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King's Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.

Reviews

It is a tragedy that all actors seem to crave to perform, and the Renaissance Theatre Company clearly relishes the chance to present Hamlet for the ear. It is a contemporary cast from which one has come to expect superior Shakespearean acting on stage and screen: Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet; Sir John Gielgud as the Ghost; Derek Jacobi as Claudius; and Emma Thompson as the Player Queen. Unlike the Recorded Books version (Audio Reviews, LJ 8/90), this BBC edition may be a little hard to follow by those unfamiliar with the play's text, particularly since stage directions are not provided and speakers are not clearly identified. But the program does give the complete version, a rare treat, and the accompanying booklet offers insights into both the acting and the production. Highly recommended.-- Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, N.Y.

Praise for William Shakespeare: Complete Works: "A feast of literary and historical information." -The Wall Street Journal

Perhaps the best known of Shakespeare's tragedies, this story of destiny and revenge pits a young prince against the murderous uncle who has stolen the throne and queen. Students often struggle when reading Shakespeare, and listening can serve as a bridge, facilitating understanding. This excellent full-cast production includes musical interludes and an insert with scene-by-scene summaries, making it not only a strong listening experience, but also the perfect adjunct to literary appreciation. Fans of the long-running British science-fiction series Doctor Who, and David Tennant's portrayal of the Doctor, will be mesmerized by the 2010 BBC television production featuring Tennant as Hamlet, with Patrick Stewart as the nefarious uncle, Claudius. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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