The Late Mr. Shakespeare

by Robert Nye

Hardcover, 1999





New York : Arcade Pub., 1999.


Several years after Shakespeare's death, an actor who knew him as a boy attempts a biography. The result is a bawdy account filled with speculations, among them that Shakespeare was the product of a love affair between a vicar and Queen Elizabeth I.

User reviews

LibraryThing member manque
Engaging from the start, Nye's novel never disappoints. In the guise of a bawdy "country history" of Shakespeare's life, with all of its attendant variations on the "facts," Pickleherring (our narrator) gives us a wonderful celebration of life and of the extraordinariness of the ordinary persons who live it.

Though chock-full with interesting facts and rumors surrounding Shakespeare's life and works, and not lacking in insight into the plays (tossed in as casual observations from Pickleherring's experience in the acting troupe), in the end the novel is as much a celebration of us all as it is a novel about Shakespeare. The famous author's life and works serve as a wonderful lens and jumping-off point for Pickleherring's evocation of our common divinity, of his revelation of what's divine and sublime in even the most common of human activities.

Wonderful reading for the literary reader or fan of Shakespeare, or for that matter anyone who likes a good story told with wit and energy through a memorably realized narrator.
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LibraryThing member papalaz
Robert Nye was brought to my attention by B S Johnson who included a list of writers who were, in his opinion, advancing the art of writing in his monograph Aren't You Rather Young To Be Writing Your Memoirs (well worth a read if you can find a copy). Since reading the BS Johnson I have always carried a copy of the list in my wallet and have now ticked off all the writers.
Nye's early work was promising and slightly experimental but for a few years he dropped off of my radar until I saw a copy of The Late Mr Shakespeare on the grubby shelves of a second hand shop in Xania. It seems he has found a way forward all of his own and that he has written quite a bit since last I read him.
The Late Mr Shakespeare, let me make perfectly clear, is a wonderful read. It is the concept that is experimental/groundbreaking and not the prose nor the style. Nye relates a litany of stories about Shakespeare, his life and times from the viewpoint of an actor from his Globe troop. Our narrator, PickleHerring is writing, after Shakespeare's death to fend off his own. Pickleherring is a gossip and an unreliable source - he treats fact and rumour with an even hand and while doing so he reveals more about himself than he does about his subject.
He is humorous, low and knowledgeable. He writes flowingly and elegantly. He covers major facts of Shakespeares life with gusto and in doing so gives you a better grip on Shakespeare and his work and genius than is to be had from dry and dusty biographies. Is it Pickleherring or Nye we are listening to?
I care not a jot. This is worth anybody's time and requires no effort at all. Read it and enjoy it. Personally I shall be looking for a copy of Mrs Shakepseare!
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