Shakespeare: His Work and His World

Shakespeare: His Work and His World

by Robert Ingpen
"Rosen makes the life and work of Shakespeare vibrant and exciting in this perfectly splendid biography. . . . Beautiful and engaging." — KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review)

"In exceptionally fresh and vivid terms, the author plies readers with abundant, accurate information on the playwright, his theater, and the plays, looking closely


"Rosen makes the life and work of Shakespeare vibrant and exciting in this perfectly splendid biography. . . . Beautiful and engaging." — KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review)

"In exceptionally fresh and vivid terms, the author plies readers with abundant, accurate information on the playwright, his theater, and the plays, looking closely at A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, ROMEO AND JULIET, MACBETH, KING LEAR, and THE TEMPEST. . . . This volume justly serves its spectacular subject." — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

"Even readers whose previous experience with Shakespeare has been rounded with sleep will be persuaded by this robust introduction to give it another try." — BOOKLIST (starred review)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rosen's (Classic Poetry) compelling text and Ingpen's (Who Is the World For?) dramatic paintings invite readers into the "extraordinary and dangerous times" in which the Bard wrote his famous plays. The narrative and design divide into distinct sections ideal for browsing. To set the stage, Rosen introduces "A Plot!" and details how, in 1598, to avoid paying their landlord, actors covertly pulled down the timber from the Curtain theater to reconstruct the Globe (a portion of which Shakespeare owned) on the opposite side of the Thames. Most chapters begin with engaging, chatty rhetorical questions (relayed, however, in a sometimes distracting typeface) such as "What's So Special About Shakespeare?" and "So How Does Someone Stay That Famous?" Some metaphors, such as comparing Shakespeare's plays to a "house full of many amazing rooms," become a bit strained, but the narrative benefits from liberal quotation of Shakespeare's plays. Rosen effectively sets the historical context and reconstructs and imagines the events and circumstances of Shakespeare's life, while also demonstrating the surprising and pervasive extent of his linguistic legacy. Ingpen's atmospheric paintings evoke the romance of the era and capture the pageantry of the plays. A strong and worthy companion for readers exploring Shakespeare. Ages 12-15. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
The author shares the enjoyment he has found in reading the works of Shakespeare and observing performances of his plays and expresses his hope to ignite a similar passion in the readers of this book. He starts with an engaging story of how the Globe Theatre came to be and follows that up with an overview of the life of Shakespeare. Records from that era are sparse, so he gives the reader a view of how Shakespeare must have lived by recreating the times and locations in which his subject dwelled, aided in this by the pencil and watercolor illustrations that grace the pages. Quotes pepper the text, accenting not only the quality of the writing but also Shakespeare's understanding of the human condition, evident in the plays. The world may change, but the motivations and aspirations of men and women remain as constants. Four of Shakespeare's plays are studied more closely and a detailed timeline offers additional information. The book captures the author's enthusiasm and is a joy to read. 2001, Candlewick Press, $19.99. Ages 10 up. Reviewer:Carolyn Mott Ford
As award-winning author Michael Rosen points out on page eighty of Shakespeare: His Work and His World, right at this very moment, someone is likely reading Shakespeare, watching one of his plays, or writing yet another book or essay about his works. The influential playwright is a household name hundreds of years after his time and the subject of numerous biographies. In this new account of the well-known figure, Rosen, teamed with acclaimed illustrator Robert Ingpen, manages to offer a fresh look at Shakespeare in an entertaining, kid-friendly format. Rosen begins by listing the solid facts known about Shakespeare's life. Then, with a matter-of-fact tone, he explains how historians create a fuller picture by using these facts together with what was happening during the time in the areas where Shakespeare lived. Rosen's logical explanation of this process captures extremely well the work of historians and biographers. Using frequent quotes from Shakespeare's plays, as well as from period documents, Rosen details life in historic London and Stratford and helps the reader to understand how Shakespeare was strongly influenced by the politics, exploration, and religious causes prevalent in his time. Beautiful full-page color spreads by Ingpen lend depth to Rosen's descriptions. To better explain how Shakespeare's plays are typically grouped, Rosen takes a close look at four famous works. Ingpen's intricate illustrations connected to the play descriptions manage to convey plot themes in themselves. Asking the question, "so what makes Shakespeare's drama so special?", Rosen further dives into one of the exciting scenes from Romeo and Juliet. Finally, he wraps up with an exploration ofShakespeare's last will and, more importantly, his legacy. Shakespeare: His Work and His World is a well-paced biography likely to grab the interest of intermediate readers. While at times Rosen's vocabulary seems ill-balanced for his intended audience (for example, using the term "sneering contempt" two pages before finding it necessary to fully define the term "civil war"), his narrative tone is engaging. He conveys the idea that delving into the discovery of who was Shakespeare is an exciting adventure, and Ingpen's pictures add to the mystery with a suspenseful and sometimes dark tone. On the last page, Rosen unnecessarily implores his readers to read or watch a Shakespearean play. He should have trusted his work until that point and skipped that last paragraph. Readers of Shakespeare: His Work and His World will be interested enough to seek out a play without being told. 2001, Candlewick Press, 104 pages,
— Lauren Aimonette Liang
VOYA - Jonatha Masters
Historians and scholars have argued and debated over Shakespeare's life and works for many years. Did he truly write more than thirty-five plays? What did he do between the ages of eighteen to twenty-eight? Why did he leave everything to his eldest daughter, Susannah? These are questions that Rosen attempts to answer here. Rosen begins by discussing British history, who was in power during Shakespeare's life, and how the British people were affected by these rulers. Rosen continues by giving readers several facts about Shakespeare's early years, his marriage to Anne Hathaway, and his acting/writing career in London. Rosen also does an excellent job of introducing the reader to four of Shakespeare's most notable works, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, King Lear, and The Tempest. In this book, Rosen provides a biography that is accessible to younger students because of the language that is used. It is modern and moves at a quick pace. Ingpen's beautiful illustrations will help students better envision Shakespeare's England, his plays, and characters. One illustration that is particularly informative is of a cross-section of the Globe Theater. Readers will also find a map of London's theater district on the same page. Rosen completes this slim volume with a comprehensive time line and index. This book will be better suited for middle school readers as the language may be a bit unsophisticated for older readers.
KLIATT - Peter Neissa
It becomes evident within the first few pages that this is a book for a young audience. It is for a reader wanting to know more about the time period William Shakespeare lived in and where his plays were staged, rather than about the man and his work. It recounts how several playwrights found an untimely death for expressing points of view that were contrary to those held by the crown or the powers-that-be. The following chapters devote many pages to how a play was staged in London or Stratford and are quite informative. These chapters provide wonderful illustrations and diagrams of The Globe Theater and give the reader a sense of the ambiance of those times. The other chapters that focus on Shakespeare the man and his works are rather superficial at best and gloss over Shakespeare's language, except for phrases that are set in bold-type quotes. However, the book is worth a look for young YA students wanting an introduction to Shakespeare and his times.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-With the exclamation point in the first chapter title and the contraction and present tense in the opening sentence, Rosen's text announces its lively and compelling colloquial style. In exceptionally fresh and vivid terms, the author plies readers with abundant, accurate information on the playwright, his theater, and the plays, looking closely at A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, King Lear, and The Tempest. He presupposes some acquaintance with the best-known works (especially Macbeth), but the chief virtue of the text is the excitement that comes through the lucid descriptions-or evocations-of the plays, the poetry, and the period. He writes, too, about those parts of the bard's life that rouse curiosity: his schooling, marriage, will. The detailed time line is especially useful. The copious and engaging pencil-and-watercolor illustrations have the burnished look of old pictures and are as glorious as the text. They will lure many young people to read (and to brave the absence of paragraph indentation), as will the book's large, open typeface and attractive design. Better even than John Russell Brown's Shakespeare and His Theatre (Lothrop, 1982; o.p.), this volume justly serves its spectacular subject.-Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rosen makes the life and work of Shakespeare vibrant and exciting in this perfectly splendid biography. He opens with Shakespeare and his cohorts pulling down a wooden theatre under cover of night, to rebuild it as the Globe on the other side of London Bridge. He continues by describing in clear contemporary language some famous plots from the plays, spiced with quotes. He gives enough history so readers can understand that Shakespeare lived in tumultuous times, and that such was reflected in what he wrote. For Shakespeare's life, Rosen sticks strictly to what is known, and does a beautiful job of tying those few facts into English life in the 16th century, to make a brief but coherent whole. A Midsummer Night's Dream, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, and Macbeth are treated at some length, and Rosen is very good at offering just the right hook to lure young readers in. His analysis of Juliet's screaming argument with her parents, who want her to marry Paris when she has already secretly wed Romeo, will find readers nodding in abject recognition. He urges his audience to rent a video or see a performance, reminding them that Shakespeare wrote scripts, not books. But it's the format that makes this stand out from the usual treatment of these times; large type on oversized pages, quotes in bold, and lots of white space invite younger readers to explore this fascinating universe. Ingpen's exquisitely detailed watercolors range from full two-page spreads to marginalia; most are in full, burnished color but some are done in grisaille very effectively. Beautiful and engaging. (timeline, bibliography) (Biography. 10+)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st U.S. Edition
Product dimensions:
9.37(w) x 11.25(h) x 0.59(d)
1060L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 16 Years

Meet the Author

Michael Rosen is an award-winning author and anthologist of books for young readers including CLASSIC POETRY: AN ILLUSTRATED COLLECTION, illustrated by Paul Howard. A lifelong Shakespeare fan, Michael Rosen says of this book, "When I was a kid, I was often taken to see Shakespeare’s plays, and my parents helped me to get hold of what was special about Shakespeare. I’ve written this book in hopes that I can do something along the lines of what my parents did for me."

Robert Ingpen was born in Australia in 1936 and has published more than one hundred acclaimed books. In 1986 he was awarded the highest international accolade for his work, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Illustration.

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