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Shakespeare and the Countess
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A splendid and original book * Sunday Telegraph, Book of the Week *
Fabulous!...I could not recommend it highly enough. -- Alison Weir
Greatly enjoying Shakespeare and the Countess ... Fascinating how much archives can still yield. -- Stanley Wells
I am in love with the brilliant research on display in Shakespeare and the Countess and how it brings to the fore Lady Elizabeth Russell, a trailblazing early feminist. -- Amma Asante * Observer Books of the Year 2014 *
A work of historical and literary detection which takes us straight to the heart of religious politics in Elizabethan England . . . there is a great deal to admire in this hugely ambitious book. -- Frances Wilson * New Statesman *
This is a detailed biography of a vigorous (if not likeable) woman who stood close to power throughout the reign of Elizabeth I. [Elizabeth] Russell was a remarkable person - clever, domineering and ruthless . . . Laoutaris has done a thorough research job * Sunday Times *
It is a fascinating story and Laoutaris tells it with a winning combination of scholarly rigour and elegant prose. Contributing something fresh in the crowded arena of Shakespeare studies is not easy, but Laoutaris has done precisely that . . . A splendid book * Herald Scotland *
Laoutaris delves into all this with immense gusto, introducing his readers to a dizzying cast of characters and approaching his subject from myriad different angles. Thanks to [his] impressive research, this largely forgotten figure emerges as a woman of great erudition, determination and courage, scarcely less remarkable than her namesake and contemporary Elizabeth I -- Anne Somerset * Literary Review *
Elizabeth Russell was a force to be reckoned with [and] is the indefatigable heroine of [the] book . . . [She was] the woman who forced the company [the Chamberlain's Men] across the Thames to create their crucible of theatrical poetry, the Globe * The Times *
[An] energetic and enterprising book. He has done much original research, adding new details to the history of the [Blackfriars] playhouse, and to our knowledge of Elizabethan and Jacobean Blackfriars . . . Elizabeth Russell was a powerful figure . . . a fearsome Elizabethan version of Lady Bracknell or Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha . . . Laoutaris has done some very valuable archival work . . . It is certainly a story worth telling, and Laoutaris tells it well. -- Charles Nicholl * London Review of Books *
Chris Laoutaris sheds light on the life of the woman who waged battle against the Bard * Big Issue North *
Genuinely groundbreaking . . . It's a thrilling tale and Laoutaris tells it superbly, with fluency and passion and a masterful eye for the dramatic. Emphatic, meticulously researched and strikingly original. * Marylebone Journal (Book of the Week) *
A distinguished biography . . . [and] an impressive feat of archival research by Chris Laoutaris. * Around the Globe (the magazine of Shakespeare's Globe) *
[T]he ambitious, crafty, and eagerly litigious Elizabeth Russell . . . takes centre stage in this power struggle-filled Elizabethan drama. The self-proclaimed countess threatened Shakespeare's livelihood . . . but her opposition inadvertently resulted in the creation of the famous Globe Theatre, which secured the Bard's legacy . . . Russell's voice is heard strongly . . . As Laoutaris shows, Russell - a "staunch Puritan," funerary monument designer, and the only female sheriff in Elizabethan England - was worthy of starring in a Shakespearean drama. * Publishers Weekly, USA *
[A] tale of 16th century NIMBYism. The Puritan termagant Elizabeth Russell mounted a successful campaign against the . . . theatre company, which boasted one W. Shakespeare as a partner . . . [Laoutaris] has unearthed a fascinating story. * Independent *
Life comes close to imitating art in Shakespeare and the Countess. Here Laoutaris resuscitates as the great playwright's foil the long-forgotten Elizabeth Russell, a self-proclaimed dowager countess and unblushing harridan, who could have stepped out of a turbulent history play . . . Through her, Laoutaris throws fascinating light on the Puritans' determined fight against both Roman Catholicism and the newly established Church of England . . . [and] on her success in preventing the Burbages, the playwright's partners, from opening an indoor theatre in Blackfriars beside her home. * New York Times *
An engaging portrait of this powerful noblewoman . . . The author shows, by deftly weaving the events during Russell's lifetime and her personal impacts played therein, that he exhaustively researched his subject . . .an immensely riveting read. * Library Journal, USA *
It could be a tale for the stage itself, involving an ambitious parvenu, a self-styled countess, more than a hint of treachery and one of the more spectacular examples of historical Nimbysim . . . [This is] the story of how William Shakespeare's early plans for a theatre . . . were thwarted by the outrageous Lady Russell. * Daily Telegraph *
The story of Shakespeare and the Countess has all the hallmarks of one of his famous plays - treachery, deception, death and triumph . . . [A] fantastic tale . . . [Laoutaris] discovered a web of deceit and a true villain worthy of any of Shakespeare's plays - as well as information previously thought lost'. * Daily Mail *

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