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Description - Shakespeare's Face by Stephanie Nolen

This is the biography of a portrait - a literary mystery - and the stunning discovery that has ignited popular debate around the world. In March 2001, author Stephanie Nolen revealed the existence of an attractive painting, held by a Canadian family for 12 generations, which may be the only known portrait of Shakespeare painted during his lifetime. Although he remains one of the most admired and celebrated men in the world, there are only two images of Shakespeare generally accepted as authentic, both made after his death. Both show what Mark Twain called a 'bladder-faced' burgher devoid of genius. The man in the newly-discovered portrait - reputed to be by one John Sanders of Worcester - is keen-eyed and mischievous-looking, his wry smile and jaunty jacket more suggestive of the brilliant, humorous, humane man who wrote the greatest plays in the English language. Shakespeare's Face tells the riveting story of how the painting came to reside in the home of a retired engineer - whose grandmother kept the family treasure under her bed - and how he embarked on authenticating the portrait. Six years of painstaking forensic studies confirm that the painting does indeed date from around 1600 and has not been altered since. And to weigh the evidence, a remarkable group of leading Shakespeare scholars and art historians have contributed fresh, lively, accessible and entertaining chapters to delve into one of the most fascinating literary mysteries of our times: 'Is this the face of genius?'

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749923914
ISBN-10: 0749923911
Format: Hardback
(240mm x 170mm x mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Piatkus Books
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 27-Feb-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - Shakespeare's Face by Stephanie Nolen

Book Reviews - Shakespeare's Face by Stephanie Nolen

US Kirkus Review » Canadian journalist Nolen recounts the gripping story of the portrait many believe shows the face of the Immortal Bard. The author's mother first told her of a neighbor near Ottawa who claimed to have an authentic painting of Shakespeare. Lloyd Sullivan said that the 161/2-by-13-inch artifact was painted in 1603 by an ancestor named John Sanders, supposedly a member of the playwright's theater company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men. The painting had been in his family for 400 years, Sullivan declared, and he had tried from time to time to authenticate it. Enter Nolen with her reporter's curiosity and the resources of the Toronto Globe and Mail. In an unusual but effective strategy, she interrupts her narrative periodically to insert essays on related subjects by various scholars, artists, and forensic specialists. For example, the author discusses other portraits that may show the Bard, then we hear from Andrew Gurr discoursing on the likelihood of such a portrait even existing (he thinks it very likely), from Jonathan Bate summarizing the issues surrounding Shakespeare's identity, from Robert Tittler expatiating on portraits from the era, from Tarnya Cooper examining the artistry of the picture, and so on. The following facts emerge: the portrait is definitely from the Shakespearean period (pigments, technique, and oak surface all conform to 1603 norms); the man is wearing clothing consistent with Shakespeare's social status at the time; an X-ray confirmed that there is no underpainting; both the paper and the writing on the back, which identifies the subject as Shakespeare, date from the proper period. Q.E.D.? Not quite. As Nolen notes, there are gaps in the story, years when the painting cannot be accounted for, and there is no contemporaneous documentary evidence that Shakespeare ever sat for a portrait. A fascinating piece of detective work, but once again the elusive Swan of Avon slips into the shadows. (16 pp. color plates, not seen) (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Stephanie Nolen

Stephanie Nolen is a journalist with the Canadian Globe and Mail. This is her second book. The contributors include: - Stanley Wells, Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Jonathan Bate, King Alfred Professor of English Literature at Liverpool University - Tarnya Cooper, Assistant Curator of Art at University College London - Andrew Gurr, Professor of English at Reading University and Chief Academic Adviser to the Globe Project

Books By Stephanie Nolen

Shakespeare's Face by Stephanie Nolen
Paperback, June 2007
Promised the Moon by Stephanie Nolen
Paperback, September 2004