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Will in the World

How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

Anniversary Edition


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The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, reissued with a new afterword for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

A young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time. How is an achievement of this magnitude to be explained? Stephen Greenblatt brings us down to earth to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life, could have become the world’s greatest playwright.


“Vividly written, richly detailed, and insightful from first chapter to last . . . certain to secure a place among the essential studies of the greatest of all writers.” — William E. Cain, Boston Sunday Globe

“So engrossing, clearheaded, and lucid that its arrival is not just welcome but cause for celebration.” — Dan Cryer, Newsday

“Dazzling and subtle.” — Richard Lacayo, Time

“A magnificent achievement.” — Denis Donoghue, Wall Street Journal


Shortlisted — Pulitzer Prize, 2005

Shortlisted — National Book Critics Circle Award, 2004

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