Little is known of the wife of England's greatest playwright; a great deal, none of it complimentary, has been assumed. The omission of her name from Shakespeare's will has been interpreted as evidence that she was nothing more than an unfortunate mistake from which Shakespeare did well to distance himself. Yet Shakespeare is above all the poet of marriage. Before Shakespeare there were few comedies or tragedies of wooing and wedding. Tragedies were not about loving 'not wisely but too well' but about the fall of illustrious men. Comedies were not about the pitfalls that lay in wait along the path of true love but about getting away with adultery. In play after play Shakespeare presents the finding of a worthy wife as a triumphant denouement. Again and again in Shakespeare's plays constant wives redeem unjust and deluded husbands, but scholars persist in believing that Shakespeare's own wife was no help to him and even that he hated her. Social historians have avoided becoming embroiled in the Shakespeare industry and Shakespearean scholars have steered clear of social history.In Shakespeare's Wife Germaine Greer combines literary-historical techniques with documentary evidence about life in Stratford, striving to re-embed the story of Shakespeare's marriage in its social context. Her book presents a new and more fruitful set of hypotheses about the life and career of the farmer's daughter who married our greatest poet. Though the suggestions made in this book are certainly daring, against such a carefully researched background they appear less improbable than the prejudices so freely expressed by Shakespearean scholars. Shakespeare's Wife is a compelling, insightful book that already goes some way to right the wrongs done to Ann Shakespeare. Greer steps off the well-trodden paths of orthodoxy, asks new questions and opens new fields of investigation and research....
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