James Shapiro is the editor for this collection of American writing on Shakespeare from 1776 to the present day. He includes his own marvelous and substantive introduction, along with a foreword by President Bill Clinton.
Shapiro is my favorite Shakespeare scholar. I have the hardback editions of his A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, 1599, and Contested Will. Both are well marked and enjoyed, as is this book (as I work my way through it.) To my collection I recently added the newly published (2015) The Year of Lear ~ Shakespeare in 1606 and I can’t wait to dive into it.
Shakespeare in America ~ An Anthology from the Revolution to Now includes fascinating pieces from such as John Adams, Washington Irving, Poe, Emerson, Melville, Dickinson, Lincoln, Twain, John Wilkes Booth, Whitman, Henry James, George Santayana, Frost, T. S. Eliot, James Thurber, Cole Porter (of course, Broadway’s Kiss Me Kate!), Sam Wanamaker, and even Isaac Asimov, as well as many more. (more…)
This is a great and valuable read for anyone, but as an author, researcher, and historian myself, I absolutely loved it. And greatly appreciate all the hard, thoughtful, thorough, and fascinating work done by Firstbrook. Even though I had to wince through a few gruesome (but very real) events. Wow, should we value the sacrifices of those early settlers of America!
As a documentary type of fellow, Firstbrook did his own out-of-the-way traveling to see just how much of the legendary and almost mythical John Smith’s story he could verify. You may well be surprised. I now have a much, much clearer view of the deservedly famous Captain Smith, as well as a broader understanding of Europe, England, and America in the late 16th and early 17th Centuries. This is no dry history. This is an amazing and entertaining story, told well, and well documented. (more…)
It is hard for us modern-day Americans to imagine England without tea. What?! England without tea?! In Will Shakespeare’s day, that was (gasp!) indeed the case.
Have you heard the expression, “for all the tea in China”? It is from China that the drink made from boiled water and special leaves spread to Japan, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and India. The adventurous Portuguese led the way for Europe. (more…)
The year 1616 was significant not only to Pocahontas, Squanto, and Captain John Smith, but also to men who would become two of the world’s most famous writers ~ William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.
They are both said to have died on April 23rd of that year, Shakespeare at a mere 52 and Cervantes at 68. Because of their works and their influence, English would become known as the language of Shakespeare, and Spanish would be called (more…)
London Bridge in 1616 as seen from Southwark with the famous spiked heads visible
Do you know who was in London in 1616? All at the same time? Lady Rebecca Rolfe, an American Patuxet called Tisquantum, and the soldier-adventurer Captain John Smith. Did they meet? Two of them had a well-documented meeting. The third? No proof or mention, but perhaps a possibility, if we use our imaginations! Let’s find out more about what happened in London in 1616! And how it impacted the New World called America. (more…)
Claes Visscher’s 1616 panorama of London featuring London bridge. Whitehall is 2 miles west (left) of the bridge, around the curve to the south, in Westminster. Note the spire & bell of St. Paul’s is missing. Lightning struck and it melted!
Ever try to get a mouse through Whitehall Palace in 1616? To do it with any reasonably accurate, descriptive detail is a daunting challenge, even with the wondrous resources of today’s internet.
First of all, it’s Whitehall Palace in 1616 ~ not what was created to become Whitehall in the 1530s by Henry VIII, and not quite what eventually resulted as the mind-boggling complex of Charles II in 1680 (there’s actually a diagram available for that one). (more…)
On December 28, 2015, the website of the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana (USA!) announced “A global celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and legacy.” Merely type “400th” into any search engine and you will quickly see the truth of that statement. This is indeed the year for Shakespeare! I can’t help but wonder what he would think about all this! (more…)