Bill Bryson is one hell of an investigative journalist. I don’t know where he summons the curiosity to research his subjects as thoroughly as he does, but he does, and it’s a good thing. I just finished his biography Shakespeare: The World as Stage and I have to say I’m blown away. The lengths Bryson goes to to root out history’s most elusive figure is mind-boggling. Yes, Shakespeare was elusive; it’s amazing how little we know about him. For a start, there are but three extant renderings of the Bard, but none can be confirmed as being definitely him; no one knows for sure what the fucker actually looked like, and yet his–or whoever that dude is–is the most recognizable face in literature. How weird is that? The best part of the book is it dispels the ridiculous myth about Shaky not being the author of his own oeuvre. Who came up with that crap? You’ll have to read the book to find out (spoiler: a circle of fuckwits came up with that crap).
The most annoying thing about the ‘Shakespeare didn’t really write all that stuff’ conspiracy is that it’s based on snobbery: Shakespeare was a country boy without a degree, therefor he couldn’t possibly have written the greatest works in the history of the English language. You’re an idiot and a prick if you subscribe to this theory. Rimbaud was a hick, as was Nick Cave, and those guys are brilliant. It’s safe to assume that any scribe with a provincial background is more than likely a genius.
Get this book. Even if you were one of the kids in High School who didn’t ‘get’ Shakespeare, read this book, you’ll love it. At the very least you can draw cocks all through it.