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Twelfth Night
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William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, on England's Avon River. When he was eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three children--an older daughter Susanna and twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeare's only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeare's working life was spent in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright and poet, but also as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Although some think that sometime between 1610 and 1613 Shakespeare retired from the theater and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616, others believe that he may have continued to work in London until close to his death.

Barbara A. Mowat is Director of Research emerita at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Consulting Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, and author of The Dramaturgy of Shakespeare's Romances and of essays on Shakespeare's plays and their editing. Paul Werstine is Professor of English at the Graduate School and at King's University College at Western University. He is a general editor of the New Variorum Shakespeare and author of Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare and of many papers and articles on the printing and editing of Shakespeare's plays.

Reviews

Gr 3-5-These series titles aim to make the Bard's words accessible via free-prose adaptations. The formulaic retellings convey the plot lines of two popular comedies, but all evidence of his poetic genius is missing. Instead, modern slang expressions and/or cliches, such as Toby Belch's complaining of Olivia's "mooching around gloomy rooms" and Andrew's dancing "like a drunken flamingo," replace Shakespeare's more fluid language, trivializing his words. The characters are all included, introduced through pictures at the beginning of each volume, but all but the two main ones remain completely two-dimensional, and the relationships among them are unclear. This is particularly true in Much Ado, a complicated story with incidental characters whose purpose in the play is difficult to discern. For instance, Conrad and Borachio suddenly appear, but there is little sense as to why they are part of the plot against Claudio. The cartoon watercolor renderings, alternating between black-and-white and color, vary from quarter- to half-page in size and suggest the style used by animators. Thus, while they do reinforce the stories, there is a sameness among them, adding to the lack of character development. In fact the characters' images could be interchanged, even between plays, without much confusion. These books are no substitute either for the originals or even for Marchette Chute's classic Stories from Shakespeare (World, 1956; o.p.).-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

This must be a case of opposites attracting, as Yale releases another duo in its ongoing annotated Shakespeare series. Here the Bard's heaviest drama is paired with one of his lightest comedies. These also include textual notes, essays by Harold Bloom, and other extras. Great for the price. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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