From man to myth
Ben Jonson famously wrote of his fellow playwright and poet William Shakespeare that 'he was not of an age but for all time.' Yet, frustratingly little concrete information survives from Shakespeare's life. In Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright Into the Bard, Jack Lynch dispenses with a biography of the man and chronicles the odd twists and turns of history that created the mythical Shakespeare we know today.
Shakespeare's work had its critics at times (one seventeenth century curmdgeon likened Shakespeare's verse to the neighing of a horse), but perhaps the greatest threat to the survival of the plays came from the bard's overly ardent fans. While most recognized the beauty of the works, almost everyone who produced the plays felt the need to 'improve' some of the minor faults: how much more enjoyable King Lear would be if everyone lived or Juliet fell for a guy named Marius? Most fascinating of all, Lynch uncovers characters connected to Shakespeare that seem like they could come out of one of his plays: a murderer whose edition of Shakespeare for children still remains available today amongst them.