Last year was a bumper year for Shakespeare books. I don't really know why. I asked Mrs BookWorld, who knows lots about this kind of thing, and she didn't seem to think there was a significant anniversary to hang the books on, so I am left to ponder. (Sandra does tell me that her favourite books on Shakespeare are Jonathan Bate’s The Genius of Shakespeare and Helen Vendler’s The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets; I've heard very good things about Frank Kermode's Shakespeare's Language.) I managed to avoid reading just about anything about the bard (aside from Josipovici's wonderful essay in On Trust: Art and the Temptations of Suspicion) last year, so I thought I best remedy this in 2006. In 2005, OUP reissued their Shakespeare: The Complete Works (also see The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare) and Michael Wood his In Search of Shakespeare. New out last year, we also had: Peter Ackroyd's Shakespeare: The Biography; Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; James Shapiro's 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare; and then the more conspiratorial ones - Clare Asquith's Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare and Brenda James and William Rubinstein's The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare. Blimey. And these were just the big, populist titles. I best get my head down.

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