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BARD OF AVON by Diane Stanley


The Story of William Shakespeare

by Diane Stanley & Peter Vennema & illustrated by Diane Stanley

Age Range: 8 & up

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1992
ISBN: 0-688-09108-3
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

 The authors of several handsomely illustrated historical biographies (Good Queen Bess, 1989) take on an unusually demanding subject with intelligence, scrupulous regard for the historical record, and a wise eye to the interests of their audience. Emphasizing how little is known for sure about Shakespeare, they phrase their straightforward text to make admirably clear the boundaries of fact and the bases for plausible conjecture, often commenting on what, interestingly, is not known (``No one knows when he left [Stratford for London] or under what circumstances''). Summarizing the most significant events, they illuminate them with well chosen, often intriguing details and tell as much about the Elizabethan theater as about the playwright. Stanley's elegant illustrations are especially well suited to the topic; she uses details of Tudor architecture and costume to richly decorative effect, while her artfully structured compositions and somewhat stylized figures harmonize well with the theatrical topic. An excellent ``Postscript'' discusses the evolution of Shakespeare's English, his own inventions (e.g., ``majestic,'' ``leapfrog,'' ``gloomy'') and the continuing ubiquity of his vivid descriptions. Outstanding. Bibliography. (Biography. 8+)