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For the Love of Shakespeare

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Did you know that Shakespeare is the most filmed author of all time, as he’s been credited on more than 1,000 movies and TV shows? Or that "obscene," "gloomy," "fashionable," and "generous" are among the countless new words that Shakespeare introduced? Actually, "countless!" is one of his, too! It’s also because of the Bard that we say "catch a cold," "naked truth," and "g Did you know that Shakespeare is the most filmed author of all time, as he’s been credited on more than 1,000 movies and TV shows? Or that "obscene," "gloomy," "fashionable," and "generous" are among the countless new words that Shakespeare introduced? Actually, "countless!" is one of his, too! It’s also because of the Bard that we say "catch a cold," "naked truth," and "green-eyed monster." For further fascinating insights, dive into this masterful miscellany and become a Shakespeare buff.


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Did you know that Shakespeare is the most filmed author of all time, as he’s been credited on more than 1,000 movies and TV shows? Or that "obscene," "gloomy," "fashionable," and "generous" are among the countless new words that Shakespeare introduced? Actually, "countless!" is one of his, too! It’s also because of the Bard that we say "catch a cold," "naked truth," and "g Did you know that Shakespeare is the most filmed author of all time, as he’s been credited on more than 1,000 movies and TV shows? Or that "obscene," "gloomy," "fashionable," and "generous" are among the countless new words that Shakespeare introduced? Actually, "countless!" is one of his, too! It’s also because of the Bard that we say "catch a cold," "naked truth," and "green-eyed monster." For further fascinating insights, dive into this masterful miscellany and become a Shakespeare buff.

54 review for For the Love of Shakespeare

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura Wilkinson

    My thanks to the publisher, Summersdale; I was given a book in return for an honest review. Prior to writing for a living, I was a professional actress so when the opportunity arose to review Beth Miller’s companion guide to the world’s most famous dramatist there was no way I was going to refuse. I adore Shakespeare, though I never did get to play one of his characters. I performed in many of his contemporaries’ works but not the great man’s. Pisht! Like the book’s author, it wasn’t always thus. My thanks to the publisher, Summersdale; I was given a book in return for an honest review. Prior to writing for a living, I was a professional actress so when the opportunity arose to review Beth Miller’s companion guide to the world’s most famous dramatist there was no way I was going to refuse. I adore Shakespeare, though I never did get to play one of his characters. I performed in many of his contemporaries’ works but not the great man’s. Pisht! Like the book’s author, it wasn’t always thus. I loathed the bard at school. Along with my classmates I stared baffled and bored at a battered copy of the Dream. I fell in love during a performance of the Scottish play at Theatre Clwyd. It was the appearance of the witches that did it – mesmerising performances from the three actresses. If you’re tiring of my waffling, please do bear with. I share because Beth Miller opens her book with her ‘switched on’ moment, also during a performance: a charming, and funny, anecdote from her teenage years and it sets the tone for the book perfectly. If you’re a fan already you’ll love this book and if you’re not it could persuade you to give old Shakie a bash. It’s wonderful. For The Love of Shakespeare is not designed to be read cover to cover – though I did, ‘cos I’m geeky – but to be dipped in as and when. Nor is it designed for the super-serious scholar. Right up my alley then. The first 50-odd pages are rammed with background information – gems on the man himself, the times, his world. Did you know George Bernard Shaw wasn’t a fan and would have liked to dig Will up and throw stones at him? Me neither. After the introduction Miller divides the guide into three main sections: the Comedies, the Histories and the Tragedies; with shorter chapters on the bard’s poetry, the apocryphal plays (those whose authorship is in dispute) and his legacy. The plot of each play is explained in conversational English, followed with the plot in a nutshell – a phrase invented by Shakespeare along with a zillion others we use today, many of which Miller shares. These nutshell plots are often hilarious. Of Antony and Cleopatra Miller writes: ‘Antony learns the hard way that mixing business with pleasure is a bad idea.’ And of Macbeth: McGame of Thrones meets The Apprentice, with knives. Plot summaries are followed by other notable characters and a body count. There are ‘Did You Know?’ sections and quotable lines, and peppered throughout are interviews with people closely associated with Shakespeare today (actors, directors, academics and the like) which are also utterly delightful. Not only is the information that Miller has lovingly and painstakingly researched fascinating, she delivers her material in such a warm and witty style whether you’re a Will fan or not it’s an entertaining read. Perfect for a quick overview for not-too-keen young students – I’ll certainly encourage my son to read Miller’s thoughts on the plays he’s studying (Romeo & Juliet, another of my favourites, A Midsummer Night’s Dream – definitely not one of my favourites, and Macbeth. Love) – and for someone who’s perhaps being dragged to the theatre reluctantly. And for those already smitten there’s plenty of fresh material. A witty, informed guide infused with love and a healthy dash of irreverence. Fab-u-lous.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Beth Miller begins her companion to Shakespeare with her own light bulb moment, a production of Richard III she was “dragged to” when studying A levels. She goes on to ask why write another book about Shakespeare, when Amazon already lists more than 75,000? But what she’s produced answers her own question. It’s a witty, practical mix of description, pointers, history, and enjoyable trivia, underpinned by how human beings respond to Shakespeare including ordinary people like you, (and you, and yo Beth Miller begins her companion to Shakespeare with her own light bulb moment, a production of Richard III she was “dragged to” when studying A levels. She goes on to ask why write another book about Shakespeare, when Amazon already lists more than 75,000? But what she’s produced answers her own question. It’s a witty, practical mix of description, pointers, history, and enjoyable trivia, underpinned by how human beings respond to Shakespeare including ordinary people like you, (and you, and you). She sketches history and background, and then gives plot summaries of each play with nutshell descriptions such as “France beaten by an English team captained by a warrior-king with a stunning line in speech-making” (read the book to see which one that is). She lists notable characters, body counts and quotable lines. I’m not mad about writing style such as “Valentine and Proteis are BFFs who are sadly saying goodbye to each other” but if it helps to make Shakespeare accessible that’s fine, and Miller certainly imbues each section with her own hearty enthusiasm. I would also have found it clearer if the section on each play had started on a new page. So far, so good as a standard Shakespeare companion of which many have been produced over the years. It’s an easy to carry hardback whose dust jacket flaps and attached bookmark mean you can mark three different places at once, a useful touch. There are boxed “Did you know?” items set among the text to break it up (and appeal to pub quiz nuts) and a section on phrases Shakespeare gave English, that we use every day without thinking. The feature I liked best was another set of boxed inserts, interviews with people who work in various ways with Shakespeare today. They describe their own light bulb moments – and although bad teaching is often blamed for people’s dislike of Shakespeare, I was pleased as an ex teacher to see how many people thanked an inspirational teacher or at least a school trip for igniting their lasting love. They talk of their favourite plays, the characters they’d most like to meet, and remember their favourite productions – surprisingly often, these were in foreign languages or unexpected media, as well as those with famous actors. I was fascinated by a glimpse of the Access Officer at the Globe whose role includes enabling disabled people to access the plays and who has found new excitement himself through focussing on particular aspects with audiences of “varying neurodiversity and …senses.” There are also sections on the sonnets and longer poems, a brief discussion of how Shakespeare has been used for political purposes by different regimes, a review of the controversy over authorship, the role of scholarship (with references for deeper exploration than this book can offer), Shakespeare’s influence on subsequent art in all fields and a very funny anecdote about how disruptive it was to have Churchill in the front row at Hamlet. But the book ends as it began, focused firmly on enabling the reader to find their own personal route into Shakespeare, with full permission to hold different opinions to those of the great and the good (and teachers) and to develop and change those opinions at different life stages because, as Miller says, “despite - but also because of – the language, the emotion travels down the wires from four-hundred-and-something years ago, and hits us right between the eyes.” I closed the book, and booked tickets for The Tempest. Thank you to Lizzie Curtin at Summersdale Publishers Ltd for the copy she sent me to review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angie Jones-Moore

    I don't know what I was expecting of this book, I have read my fare share of Shakespeare in the past and always had a fondness for it. I instantly felt that Beth and I would get along if we met after reading the first few pages; I, as did she, had my 'switch on moment' whilst watching King Lear in Stratford Upon Avon when studying for my A levels, 'out vile jelly' has stuck with me ever since. As the eye ball hit the stage I tingled from head to toe. Beth Miller has written this book in an easy t I don't know what I was expecting of this book, I have read my fare share of Shakespeare in the past and always had a fondness for it. I instantly felt that Beth and I would get along if we met after reading the first few pages; I, as did she, had my 'switch on moment' whilst watching King Lear in Stratford Upon Avon when studying for my A levels, 'out vile jelly' has stuck with me ever since. As the eye ball hit the stage I tingled from head to toe. Beth Miller has written this book in an easy to read and understand fashion, which is ironic being that Shakespeare himself often puts people off reading. I feel well informed and enlightened, the number of times I turned to my family while I was reading to say 'Oh listen to this.' I lost count! The book is in a layout which is very appealing, short paragraphs, quotations, snippets of information and a break down of each play, poem and sonnet in plain modern day terms. A brilliant way to get a thorough understanding of sometimes very confusing writing from Shakespeare himself. I would say the book was 'all Greek to me' and I read it with 'bated breath' but it wasn't a 'forgone conclusion' and there was no 'foul play'. When reading I didn't 'budge and inch' Beth has a 'heart of gold' and has written a fantastic companion to Shakespeare and may she long continue with her 'spotless reputation'. Thank you Beth, I feel very well educated and shall be using this book to aid my children through their education.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Niki Baier

    I rarely give 5 star reviews but this book was just perfect. I've loved Shakespeare for years and thought I knew quite a bit, however I have learned a lot more by reading this book. It is perfectly set out as a companion that you can dip in and out of or alternatively you can read the book straight through (that's what I did!) I am sure this book will referenced many times not only by myself but also my children, how will find this easy to read and a help throughout there secondary schooling. Can't I rarely give 5 star reviews but this book was just perfect. I've loved Shakespeare for years and thought I knew quite a bit, however I have learned a lot more by reading this book. It is perfectly set out as a companion that you can dip in and out of or alternatively you can read the book straight through (that's what I did!) I am sure this book will referenced many times not only by myself but also my children, how will find this easy to read and a help throughout there secondary schooling. Can't recommend this more.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda Hill

    Everything you thought you knew about Shakespeare and an awful lot more besides! I’d have thought that Shakespeare had been done to death and that there wouldn’t be much more to offer but Beth Miller has come up with a fresh and vivacious book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Divided into clearly defined sections, For The Love of Shakespeare is designed, as Beth Miller herself says, for the reader to dip in to and I must mention the lovely attached silk bookmark that allows this so easily. I began by fl Everything you thought you knew about Shakespeare and an awful lot more besides! I’d have thought that Shakespeare had been done to death and that there wouldn’t be much more to offer but Beth Miller has come up with a fresh and vivacious book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Divided into clearly defined sections, For The Love of Shakespeare is designed, as Beth Miller herself says, for the reader to dip in to and I must mention the lovely attached silk bookmark that allows this so easily. I began by flicking through and allowing aspects to catch my eye but then became hooked on the ‘In a Nutshell’ summaries of each play so I went back and read them all in order and before I knew it I was reading the whole book exactly as presented. Beth Miller has such a natural and lively writing style that she made me laugh out loud on several occasions with her wry and witty comments. I loved the description of Sonnet 73 as wise, ‘If a bit gloomy…’ As well as being massively entertained I was also educated. I studied English at University, I’ve taught Shakespeare to A’level in schools and to adults in college and I still learnt all kinds of things from this smashing book. I had no idea Richard Burton was so put off his Shakespearean performance by Winston Churchill! When reading bits aloud to my husband he said in a tone of awe, ‘That must have taken some researching. I don’t know how people do it.’ And he’s right, the depth of research is outstanding, but never pompous or dry in its presentation. And one of the joys of For The Love of Shakespeare is that it is a book you can share with readers of all ages. I’m sure younger readers will be entranced by the body counts at the end of the play sections , for example. For The Love of Shakespeare is certainly an erudite, educational and entertaining book about Shakespeare with a Foreword by the eminent Director of the Shakespeare Institute, Professor Michael Dobson, but it is so much more besides. It’s partly an autobiography of Beth Miller as we gain a real insight into how her passion for Shakespeare has evolved from that first live performance of Richard 111 to sniggering at Bottom’s name in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s partly a social history and a literary one. It’s partly a joke book and an insight into modern media of stage, film and television. But most of all, For the Love of Shakespeare is an absolutely brilliant read and I loved it and yes, there is more faith in me ‘than in a stewed prune’!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pnina Savery

    This is a wonderful book, easy to read and full of interesting facts about Shakespeare and his writings. For experts and novices alike, this book has so much to offer. It really made me want to see as many Shakespeare performances as possible as the overviews of his plays make them all sound brilliant, even the ones that can be tricky to follow. The book begins with background information on the man behind the plays, complete with historical notes as well as personal information. It then continu This is a wonderful book, easy to read and full of interesting facts about Shakespeare and his writings. For experts and novices alike, this book has so much to offer. It really made me want to see as many Shakespeare performances as possible as the overviews of his plays make them all sound brilliant, even the ones that can be tricky to follow. The book begins with background information on the man behind the plays, complete with historical notes as well as personal information. It then continues to give an overview of all the plays, along with a chapter dedicated to his poems. The book ends with a chapter on Shakespeare's influence, making you realise quite how much of an impact he had on the world. The book can be read cover to cover, or can be used as more of a reference book, which suits many different purposes. I found it easy to read cover to cover, and it was really fascinating. Beth Miller has interviewed many different people who are connected to Shakespeare plays and works, and their personal anecdotes add to the feeling that Shakespeare is relevant to everyone. I highly recommend this to anyone!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karen Carter

    What a lovely book! This book really is a companion to Shakespeare and every bit as friendly and as accessible as a companion should be. It is clearly laid out and whilst I enjoyed reading it cover to cover, I have no doubt that I (and hopefully my sons and classes) will also dip in and out of it. This book was informative but also written in a chatty, engaging way. I loved the fact that Beth Miller acknowledges that many people's first experiences of Shakespeare are not positive and begins her bo What a lovely book! This book really is a companion to Shakespeare and every bit as friendly and as accessible as a companion should be. It is clearly laid out and whilst I enjoyed reading it cover to cover, I have no doubt that I (and hopefully my sons and classes) will also dip in and out of it. This book was informative but also written in a chatty, engaging way. I loved the fact that Beth Miller acknowledges that many people's first experiences of Shakespeare are not positive and begins her book with her own 'magic moment'. We then meet many others who share their 'Shakespeare moment' throughout the book . It made me think of the many moments I have enjoyed and that of my once reluctant son! The synopsis of each play is clear and I like the way that each concludes with the most quotable lines. I really enjoyed this and know I will return to it many times!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lainy

    Time taken to read - Dipped in and out from March Pages - 282 Publisher - Summersdale Blurb from Goodreads A treasure-trove of wit, imagination and emotion, his plays and poems continue to surprise, inspire, console and delight us. Whether you're a life-long lover of the Bard or a curious newcomer to his world, this companion will lift the curtain on the unforgettable characters and stories of Britain's greatest dramatist. My Review This book on the inside is called A Companion, that is perfect for wh Time taken to read - Dipped in and out from March Pages - 282 Publisher - Summersdale Blurb from Goodreads A treasure-trove of wit, imagination and emotion, his plays and poems continue to surprise, inspire, console and delight us. Whether you're a life-long lover of the Bard or a curious newcomer to his world, this companion will lift the curtain on the unforgettable characters and stories of Britain's greatest dramatist. My Review This book on the inside is called A Companion, that is perfect for what this wee book is. Miller takes us on a journey through who Shakespeare was, an insight into his work with commentary and laced with some humour. Interviews with different people to how they fell in love with Shakespeare, his works, his influences and even a conspiracy theory. Finished off with some reading that influenced the work that went into the book and online resources which I will be checking out myself. I have always wanted to read Shakespeare, we did one play in school, each person reading different parts and I loved it. Reading the plays in books though I always found a chore, the language and way it has been put down on the pages was tough going. So when I had the opportunity for reviewing this I jumped at it. A book that goes over the stories but in simplistic English and with Millers humour and own voice it was easy to loose yourself in. Normally when I take a week or more to read a book it is because I am struggling with it, this is the opposite with this book. I enjoyed it so much and learned so much about both Shakespeare himself and his work I would often put the book aside to go and google and read more about the chapter/story I had just learned about. So many of the work was brand new to me and I had no idea how many adaptations, books and literature was out there about him and his creations. That is why it has taken so long to get to the end of the book I kept going off and reading more on what Miller had written. The passion for her subject is abundantly clear pretty much from the get go and you can't help but be swept away with it yourself. From providing quotable lines, little Did You Know tables and bite sized info such as phrases coined by Shakespeare you could easily loose yourself in this book in one sitting. I had to go in and out as such much was new to me and I wanted to read up on more about that particular sonnet or poem as it was mostly fresh information. I started this book with trepidation there is nothing worse than agreeing to review a book and fearing you might get bored or lose interest. Unwarranted fear in this case, this book is now a keeper for me and certainly one I will go back to again and again. I am also going to buy a copy for my friend who loves Shakespeare and unlike me could read him in any presentation so she will love this, 5/5 for me this time. I would absolutely recommend this book, whether you are curious about the man himself or well versed in his works I think everyone can enjoy something from this read!

  9. 4 out of 5

    James

    A

  10. 5 out of 5

    Arkgirl

    This is a delightful and accessible look at the work and influence of Shakespeare that would be a great addition to anyone's Shakespeare collection but is also a great introduction for those who are new to his works, young students, and also for those put off his work in younger life this may tempt them back to give another chance. The book is set out into clear sections that you can dip into or read straight through ... it is that readable [!]: It starts with an introduction to Shakespeare the Ma This is a delightful and accessible look at the work and influence of Shakespeare that would be a great addition to anyone's Shakespeare collection but is also a great introduction for those who are new to his works, young students, and also for those put off his work in younger life this may tempt them back to give another chance. The book is set out into clear sections that you can dip into or read straight through ... it is that readable [!]: It starts with an introduction to Shakespeare the Man, where the key thing to note is how little we actually know about this influential writer; We then have the contextual setting in Shakespeare's World; Following this we have his works - Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, Apocryphal plays and Poetry; and Finally we have a look at his long lasting influence on writing, music, film, politics & humanity, and language. The coverage of his writings is obviously a whistle stop tour of his works but there is a clarity and a lightness of touch which means I found it to be a really engaging look at the plays and poetry. Interspersed throughout are short interviews with those whose lives have been influenced by Shakespeare [writers, actors, academics and those who work within the wider Shakespeare 'industry']. The questions address: 'switch on' moments; memorable performances; favourite plays; characters you'd like to meet; and how you might persuade someone to give Shakespeare a chance. One of the most telling answers to that 'give a chance' question came near the end of the book when someone says they might need to see more than one play yet there is one for you somewhere it also acknowledges that many have seen and loved Shakespeare and not known it in modern reworkings like Lion King and House of Cards!! I think that idea that some of his work might not be for you rings true with me as I remember being hugely put off by a performance of Cymbeline and if that had been my first experience my love for his work might never have developed, thankfully an inspiring English Literature teacher, some great performances of Julius Caesar and Anthony & Cleopatra plus a chance to study his work in more depth meant that one production that didn't gel did not stunt my exploration of his work - having read this I will look out for another production of Cymbeline to give it another go!! The thing that is great about this book is the humour that Beth brings, I love some of her witty asides, and the fact that she makes the topic very approachable for all who have an interest or those who 'have to have' an interest. Despite teaching and studying Shakespeare over many years I found there were aspects of his life and work that I discovered more about and it has inspired me to re-watch some of my favourites: Much Ado About Nothing [DVD] [1993] and the Shakespeare Retold [2005] [DVD] plus happy memories of David Tennant and Catherine Tate's versions of Much Ado; Ian McKellen and Judi Dench in a stripped back version of William Shakespeare's Macbeth [1978] [DVD]; and Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night [DVD] [1996].

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nerdish Mum

    My original plan for reading this book as it is a non-fiction was to read a bit then put it down and just keep diving into it every now and again. This almost immediately went out the window and I ended up reading it cover to cover in two sittings as it was so clear and easy to read and extremely enjoyable as well as being informative. I really loved how For The Love Of Shakespeare is organised, it makes it very easy for you to pick it up and find which bit you'd like to read. The first two sect My original plan for reading this book as it is a non-fiction was to read a bit then put it down and just keep diving into it every now and again. This almost immediately went out the window and I ended up reading it cover to cover in two sittings as it was so clear and easy to read and extremely enjoyable as well as being informative. I really loved how For The Love Of Shakespeare is organised, it makes it very easy for you to pick it up and find which bit you'd like to read. The first two sections are about Shakespeare himself and about Stratford Upon Avon and London in his time and then it moves onto his works which are split into The Comedies, The Histories, The Tragedies, The Apocryphal Plays and The Poetry. Each play is then broken down into plots, in a nutshell, other notable characters, body count, did you know and quotable lines. I absolutely love the in a nutshell section as it explains the plot of the play in very basic terms usually with quite a lot of wit! The quotable lines bit is very good too as I could check out the famous lines I know and quite easily find out which play they are from. I know I keep saying and "this bit is good" but I really mean it, it's all just so good! I enjoyed the other notable characters sections as it highlighted some lesser recognised characters and explained the important things that they had done within the story. Throughout the book there are mini interviews with people who are involved one way or another in the world of Shakespeare and the seem to be located close to their favourite play which is a nice touch. It was interesting to see how each person had grown to love Shakespeare and what experiences they had had. Overall such a refreshingly light and still informative book and one I will happily keep on my bookshelves as it is also beautiful on the outside too. I have already recommended this to people I know and will continue to do so.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Scarlett

  13. 5 out of 5

    John English

  14. 4 out of 5

    Abbie Headon

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kristan

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kirstie

  17. 5 out of 5

    Louise Greaves

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mackenzie Carhart

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Subhajit Das

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nessa Beresford

  22. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Widdowson

  24. 4 out of 5

    Loren Palmer

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rich

  26. 5 out of 5

    TiphaineH

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jasia Bhutto

  28. 5 out of 5

    Silvia (roomforbooks)

  29. 5 out of 5

    FAE

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carol Ann

  31. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

  32. 5 out of 5

    Anish

  33. 4 out of 5

    Aan Krida

  34. 4 out of 5

    Alexandria

  35. 4 out of 5

    Annika Hoogendoorn-Van Oosten

  36. 5 out of 5

    Gazmend Kryeziu

  37. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Heare Watts

  38. 4 out of 5

    Laura B

  39. 5 out of 5

    A F

  40. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  41. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  42. 5 out of 5

    Anna Maria

  43. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

  44. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  45. 5 out of 5

    Fitri

  46. 4 out of 5

    Consuelo Murgia

  47. 5 out of 5

    Fitri Anggraini

  48. 5 out of 5

    Katerina Stournara

  49. 4 out of 5

    Lorna Leicester

  50. 4 out of 5

    Betty

  51. 5 out of 5

    Tri Rahayu Kusumawati

  52. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Muscat

  53. 5 out of 5

    NormaCenva

  54. 5 out of 5

    Aysha

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