View Gallery

Available in

Shakespeare’s Library

Unlocking the Greatest Mystery in Literature

List Price: $16.95

April 14, 2020 | Paperback | 5.6 x 8.5, 336 pages | ISBN 9781640093829
Order Now From

A tantalizing true story of one of literature’s most enduring enigmas is at the heart of this “lively, even sprightly book” (Michael Dirda, The Washington Post)–the quest to find the personal library of the world’s greatest writer.

Millions of words of scholarship have been expended on the world’s most famous author and his work. And yet a critical part of the puzzle, Shakespeare’s library, is a mystery. For four centuries people have searched for it: in mansions, palaces and libraries; in riverbeds, sheep pens and partridge coops; and in the corridors of the mind. Yet no trace of the bard’s manuscripts, books or letters has ever been found.

The search for Shakespeare’s library is much more than a treasure hunt. Knowing what the Bard read informs our reading of his work, and it offers insight into the mythos of Shakespeare and the debate around authorship. The library’s fate has profound implications for literature, for national and cultural identity, and for the global Shakespeare industry. It bears on fundamental principles of art, identity, history, meaning and truth.

Unfolding the search like the mystery story that it is, acclaimed author Stuart Kells follows the trail of the hunters, taking us through different conceptions of the library and of the man himself. Entertaining and enlightening, Shakespeare’s Library is a captivating exploration of one of literature’s most enduring enigmas.

“An engaging and provocative contribution to the unending world of Shakespeariana . . . An enchanting work that bibliophiles will savor and Shakespeare fans adore.” ―Kirkus Reviews

About Stuart Kells

STUART KELLS is an author and book-trade historian. His history of Penguin Books, Penguin and the Lane Brothers, won the prestigious Ashurst Business Literature Prize. He is also the author of Rare, the critically acclaimed biography of Kay Craddock, the first female president of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers; and The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders, which has been published around the world in multiple languages.

Praise for Shakespeare's Library

"Shakespeare's Library is unquestionably a lively, even sprightly book." --Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

"In his fascinating new book, Shakespeare's Library: Unlocking the Greatest Mystery in Literature, Kells narrows his focus from all the libraries in the world to one library in particular. It's perhaps the most important library that nobody's ever seen: the personal library of William Shakespeare . . . Invigorating . . . Wonderful reading." --Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor

"Riveting . . . To read, or not to read? Here, there's no question!" --Booklist (starred review)

"Historian Kells (The Library) delivers a fascinating examination of a persistent literary mystery . . . Shakespeare fans will surely be riveted by the new information brought to light in Kells's rich literary survey." --Publishers Weekly

"It's an engaging and provocative contribution to the unending world of Shakespeariana . . . An enchanting work that bibliophiles will savor and Shakespeare fans adore." --Kirkus Reviews

"Sharp and enjoyable." --Fine Books & Collections

"An entertaining and informative read that every Shakespeare scholar should make sure to have in their own library." --Ripe Good Scholar

"An excellent reevaluation of Shakespeare. Well worth reading." --William Sutton,

"Fascinating . . . Libraries can save us all." --Ben Crystal, author of Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary

Related Products