Shakespeare Imagined: The Bard in Fiction

Who was William Shakespeare? Some folks think we know, others have doubts. Was Edward de Vere, Earl of the Oxford, really the Bard of Avon? Was it Christopher Marlowe? Or someone one else? Although new evidence points to the William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon as the author of the plays,  there will always be speculation.

Whether or not you believe he was the son of a merchant who grew to become the most well-known playwright of all time or someone else, we all remain fascinated by his life. Many authors have re-imagined Shakespeare’s life and characters and the results are riveting! Shakespeare’s legacy is unique, his reach unparalleled. Try some of these works of fiction that feature either Shakespeare or one of his characters.

 The Secret Life of William Shakespeare by Jude Morgan
There are so few established facts about how the son of a glove maker from Warwickshire became one of the greatest writers of all time that some people doubt he could really have written so many astonishing plays. When and how did he become a genius? This novel  imagines the private world of the master bard and chronicles the transformation of an unwilling craftsman and resentful son into a husband, father and genius playwright in Renaissance London.

 

 Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
A retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest told from Miranda’s perspective as the magus’ isolated daughter, who finds solace and companionship with her father’s savage servant, Caliban. We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will? In this incredible retelling of the tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin–the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him.

 

 Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold by Margaret Atwood
Felix, the artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival, is staging a Tempest like no other that will it boost his reputation. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And brewing revenge. After 12 years revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theater course at a nearby prison. Here Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him.

 The Tutor by Andrea Chapin
Another novel starring Shakespeare.  The year is 1590, and Katharine de L’Isle , a widow, is living at Lufanwal Hall, the  manor of her uncle, Sir Edward when a new schoolmaster arrives from Stratford, a man named William Shakespeare. Coarse, quick-witted, and brazenly flirtatious, Shakespeare swiftly disrupts the household and soon Katharine finds herself drawn into Shakespeare’s verse, and his life, in ways that will change her forever.

 Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen
A new telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, from the perspective of Juliet’s nurse. In Verona, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen years, the nurse learns the Cappelletti’s darkest secrets. Those secrets– and the nurse’s deep personal grief– erupt across five momentous days of love and loss that destroy a daughter, and a family.

 The Gap of Time: The Winter’s Tale Retold by Jeanette Winterson
The Winter’s Tale tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast. In The Gap of Time, we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. The story is one of childhood friendship, the power of jealousy, and the redemption and enduring love of a lost child.

They’re Not What They Seem…

Can you figure out what these women have in common?

AlanaAlanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce “I did this because I wanted to become a knight.”

 

 

Jacket.aspxShadowbridge by Gregory Frost “I did this because I needed to protect myself.”

 

 

Jacket.aspxThe Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted “I did this because I wanted an education.”

 

 

jacketA Soldier’s Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss “I did this because I wanted to escape from my previous life and fight for a cause.”

 

 

Jacket.aspxTwelfth Night by William Shakespeare “I did this because I needed a way to live.”

 

 

Jacket.aspxDisney’s Mulan “I did this because I needed to protect my family.”

 

 

Jacket.aspxBloody Jack by L.A. Meyer. “I did this because I wanted to sail around the world.”

 

 

Jacket.aspxSelf-Made Man by Norah Vincent “I did this because I wanted to learn about how men live.”

 

 

Jacket.aspxRowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest by Nancy Springer “I did this because I was searching for my father.”

 

Ouran

Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori “I did this because I was in debt.”

 

 

Did you guess? Women disguised as men. They were disguised so they could fight for themselves or their families, protect themselves when they were all alone in a man’s world, and earn an education, which they would have been denied otherwise. Each and every one of these is absolutely fascinating. Do yourself a favor and work your way through this list!

Do you have any favorite books/movies/plays with this subject that did not make this list?

Memories of Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book

Norman2I was sixteen years old when Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book was published. I was (and still am) a huge Rockwell fan and was delighted to discover this book under the tree on Christmas morning all those years ago.

I could write a book myself about how much I love this book, how I know every story in it by heart, how each of the 120 Rockwell illustrations are etched onto my brain. I still own it, and it’s a cherished part of my holiday.

I could never do justice to this book in a short blog post. Instead, I’ll let the world-famous authors whose works fill the pages speak for themselves.

The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is the time.
(Hamlet by William Shakespeare)

I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone.
(My Christmas Miracle by Taylor Caldwell)

No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
(Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus by Francis P. Church)

My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
(Christmas Trees by Robert Frost)

“And so you see,” said Ursula, “I try to do a kindness in your name. And this is my Christmas present to you.” 
(A Gift of the Heart by Norman Vincent Peale)

She felt uplifted by a great surge of wonder and gratitude and compassion and love. And she knew what it was. It was the spirit of Christmas. And it was upon them all.
(The Miraculous Staircase by Arthur Gordon)

And a final message for peace on Earth and goodwill toward all:

God rest you merry, Innocents,
While innocence endures.
A sweeter Christmas than we to ours
May you bequeath to yours.
(A Carol for Children by Ogden Nash)