As it was published by the National Portrait Gallery, most of the Bard’s contemporaries’ portraits are shown (although it is interesting to see just which people he associated with do not have any remaining portraits: they will be forever faceless). Nicholl’s text does justice to the limited space the volume was intended to fill: he does not wax long on unnecessary bibliographical details, but rather keeps his succinct thoughts on Shakespeare’s contemporaries relevant to the life details that may be interesting to the scholar of Shakespeare. The tone is official and to the point: it’s not necessarily a light read. That said, given the brevity and succinct nature of the writing, it is a perfect tone.
This volume is not a complete portrait of any contemporary of Shakespeare, nor a complete portrait of the Bard himself. Nonetheless, it is certainly an appropriate scholarly introduction to Shakespeare’s possibly significant contemporaries. The volume’s audience may be limited to scholars: I had to request an Interlibrary Loan from a nearby university library.
Nonetheless, I must remind the reader of this blog once again that I am not a scholar, nor did I read the volume with a scholar’s eye: I’m simply a reader of Shakespeare who was curious about those he may or may not have associated with. Because my purposes in reading are not scholarly, I’m certain the sketches of the various people will not remain with me. All the same, I’m glad I picked up Shakespeare and His Contemporaries right now: it was a perfect glimpse at the significant persons living during Shakespeare’s lifetime.
Cross posted on my blog
eBook Shakespeare and His Contemporaries