Sweet William: A User’s Guide to Shakespeare


ISBN: 9781848423442
Author: By Michael Pennington
Publication Date: 12/12/2013
Publisher: Nick Hern Books
Extent: 336pp.
Availability: Available


Michael Pennington’s solo show about Shakespeare, Sweet William, has been acclaimed throughout Europe and in the US as a unique blend of showmanship and scholarship. In this book, he deepens his exploration of Shakespeare’s life and work – and the connection between the two – that lies at its heart.

It is illuminated throughout by the unrivalled insights into the plays that Pennington has gained from the twenty thousand hours he has spent working on them as a leading actor, an artistic director and a director – and as the author of three previous books on individual Shakespeare plays.

With practical analysis, wonderfully detailed and entertaining interpretations of characters and scenes, and vivid reflections on Shakespeare’s theatre and ours, the result is a masterclass of the most enjoyable kind for theatregoers, professionals, students and anyone interested in Shakespeare.

This book was published in hardback as Sweet William: Twenty Thousand Hours With Shakespeare.

‘A brilliant and intimate insider’s guide to Shakespeare from one of our greatest classical actors’ Gregory Doran

‘Michael Pennington is a great Shakespearian actor who writes with the authority of an academic. His book analyses the plays, the characters and the playwright’s life. It will intrigue, entertain and challenge students, actors and their audiences’ Ian McKellen

‘Rich and informative, and something that will be mined for many years to come by anyone interested in Shakespeare and in British theatre’ Professor James Shapiro

‘Shakespeare comes wonderfully to life in Michael’s beautifully written book’ Rupert Everett

‘Irresistibly readable’ Peter Brook 

‘Pennington’s blend of scholarship and practical experience gives him an edge over critics with a purely academic knowledge… It’s like chatting to an immensely knowledgeable and entertaining actor in The Dirty Duck at Stratford: a raconteur full of theatrical anecdotes, waspish asides, and provocative insights’
Drama magazine

‘I can’t remember when I learned so much from a single volume as I have from Michael Pennington’s engaging, absorbing, congenial, informative new book Sweet William… Sometimes he’s anecdotal, often lyrical, always thoughtful and occasionally laugh-aloud funny. Pennington’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in Shakespeare from almost any angle – actor, drama student, teacher, director, technician, literature student or audience member’
The Stage

‘The most important and best set of original Shakespeare essays that I have read in over thirty years… Pennington is blessed with an ideal combination of talents and experiences… a wonderful book’
Speaking English

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