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Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
As part of the Eminent Lives series, Bryson presents a brief (196 page) biography of William Shakespeare – brief, he explains, because so little is actually known about Shakespeare. In his quirky comedic style, Bryson elucidates on what few facts exist on Shakespeare’s life. General history is interwoven with specifics about the playwright (for example, up to 40% of brides were pregnant on their wedding day). With amusing anecdotes on farfetched theories (like the plays were actually written by Francis Bacon, a random aristocrat, or a combination thereof), Shakespeare is a quick, enjoyable read on a mysterious author’s life and times.
After you read the biography, if you're interested in reading Shakespeare's works, check out the library catalog or visit MIT's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare online. To find out more about Shakespeare -- his life, works, theater, FAQs -- visit the Folger Shakespeare Library website.