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“Two of the Mighty dead have been brought back to life in exemplary fashion: Shakespeare in Lois Potter’s The Life of William Shakespeare: A Critical Biography, which very cleverly uses expert theatre-knowledge as a way of making her enigmatic subject seem plausibly substantial; and Keats in Nicholas Roe’s John Keats: A New Life, which puts the poet properly in his place.” (The Guardian, 24 November 2012)
“This study will have wide appeal to readers who wish to expand their appreciation of the works of William Shakespeare. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.” (Choice, 1 November 2012)
“These form the narrative spine of this richly suggestive, undogmatic book in which Lois Potter ranges across the entire canon and the period that helped produce it.” (Around the Globe, 1 October 2012)
“Lois Potter’s Life of William Shakespeare, ranks with the most distinguished examples of its kind … Her achievement lies in her catholicity, her simultaneous commitment to matters personal, historical, theatrical, literary, cultural. She exhibits an absolute command of the available facts, a lifetime’s acquaintance with the works gained in teaching and playgoing, an unparalleled familiarity with theatrical history from 1567 to the present, and a talent for connecting the fictional and the actual.” (Times Literary Supplement, 10 August 2012)
“Lois Potter’s book provides a delightful guide through Shakespeare’s world. A splendid introduction for those new to the facts about Shakespeare’s life, it is also a revelation for anyone all too familiar with them. The Life of William Shakespeare revitalizes old truths by asking questions where none seemed necessary, by filling in new detail, and most of all, by approaching the material from the perspective of a would-be, then practicing and collaborating, player-playwright. Lois Potter’s unique emphasis, on Shakespeare’s imaginative life and the words that fed it, works brilliantly to produce what I would have thought impossible: a really new biography that never thins into mere speculation. Learned, modest, witty and above all smart, the book will be a must-read for anyone who cares about early modern theater.”
—Meredith Skura, Rice University
“By keeping her eye on the enduring power of Shakespeare’s writing, Lois Potter manages to gather all the interesting and puzzling questions we have asked about his life into a focused and authentically critical biography. She is adventurous in taking on speculation and counter-speculation but never allows us to confuse conjecture with fact. Richly informative and engagingly written, this book should appeal to general readers as well as to professional Shakespeareans.”
—Edward Pechter, Concordia University
“Lois Potter has produced an astonishing, revelatory, fully literary biography. The Life of William Shakespeare is a product of deep reservoirs of historical knowledge, theatrical experience, and critical acumen, all deployed with an extraordinarily sympathetic imagination. Potter adjudicates standing quarrels about the life story with intelligence and dispassion, offers up scintillating new readings of the works, and produces interesting and original observations on every page.”
—Lena Cowen Orlin, Executive Director, Shakespeare Association of America, and Professor of English, Georgetown University
“This is not just (just!) a biography of Shakespeare: it is a theatrical biography. It uses Potter’s immense, unrivalled knowledge of things theatrical to draw very logical and frequently original inferences.”
—Laurie Maguire, Oxford University
“This is a lively, fresh new introduction to the life of Shakespeare, no mere regurgitating of earlier lives. It reads well. It is judicious, intelligent, coherent, and well documented.”
—David Bevington, University of Chicago