Mad about Shakespeare: Life Lessons from the Bard

By Jonathan Bate

‘Enlightening, moving’ SIR IAN MCKELLEN

From the acclaimed and bestselling biographer Jonathan Bate, a luminous new exploration of Shakespeare and how his themes can untangle comedy and tragedy, learning and loving in our modern lives.

‘The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.’

How does one survive the death of a loved one, the mess of war, the experience of being schooled, of falling in love, of growing old, of losing your mind?

Shakespeare’s world is never too far different from our own ‘permeated with the same tragedies, the same existential questions and domestic worries. In this extraordinary book, Jonathan Bate brings then and now together. He investigates moments of his own life – losses and challenges – and asks whether, if you persevere with Shakespeare, he can offer a word of wisdom or a human insight for any time or any crisis. Along the way we meet actors such as Judi Dench and Simon Callow, and writers such as Dr Johnson, John Keats, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath, who turned to Shakespeare in their own dark times.

This is a personal story about loss, the black dog of depression, unexpected journeys and the very human things that echo through time, resonating with us all at one point or another.

Format: Paperback
Release Date: 13 Apr 2023
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0-00-816749-3
Jonathan Bate CBE is Provost of Worcester College and Professor of English Literature at Oxford University. He is Vice-President of the British Academy, a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and a 2014 judge for the Man Booker Prize.

”'Many of us are mad about Shakespeare, whether as audience, actor or scholar. Jonathan Bate represents us all in his enlightening, moving report of his own personal 'madness” - . Reading it is an education’Sir Ian McKellen

‘A startlingly original journey into the soul of Shakespeare by one of his greatest living interpreters’Sir Anthony Seldon -

‘Jonathan Bate’s Mad About Shakespeare offers a series of moving lessons in the complex grammar of life. Speaking as student and teacher, son, husband, father and dramaturge, Bate produces a work of significant cultural and familial history that runs through the language and scenery of Shakespeare. Tying and untying knots, Bate asks how we might live alongside literature as a source of knowledge, comfort and hope.Shakespeare’s expansive plots and wise conceits offer extra space and time in which to live and breathe in the face of emergency; a literary bloodline offering wisdom, insight and consolation’Sally Bayley -

‘An encouraging and welcome reminder of the importance of reading and talking about reading with young people … I hope lots of English teachers will read it and take heart’Dr Katy Ricks, Chief Master of King Edwards School -

‘Ranges elegantly over a range of literary figures … A very readable account of the thrill of discovering literature … It is a touchingly reticent and romantic book’Literary Review -