Saturday, January 13, 2007

Best biographies of dramatists

Terry Teachout named the five best theatrical biographies for Opinion Journal.

The best biography of the best playwright?:
Shakespeare by Park Honan

The most admired of all English-speaking playwrights is also one about whom comparatively little is known. As a result, too many Shakespeare biographers blithely dish up a mulligan stew of hard historical data, more or less informed speculation, and wildly wishful thinking. Not so Park Honan, the Joe Friday of Shakespeare scholars, whose lucidly written just-the-facts biography seeks (in his words) "to show in an accurate narrative all that can be known of Shakespeare's life, at present, and to offer some account of his writing in relation to his life. . ..Imaginative reconstructions and elaborate psychological theories about him can be amusing; but, for me, they strain credulity." I agree, which is why this is the book I invariably recommend to anyone interested in learning about Shakespeare and his world.
Read about the other four biographies.

--Marshal Zeringue