The Best of Shakespeare

The Best of Shakespeare

The Best of Shakespeare

The Best of Shakespeare


At the heart of any great work of literature is a story. William Shakespeare's plays are no exception. His plays tell stories of kings and queens, of ghosts and witches, of romance and passion. But to get to the story at the heart of the plays, the reader must first work through Shakespeare's language, a task often too great for younger readers (and for many adults). Now, in this new edition, E. Nesbit, the classic British children's author, brings ten of Shakespeare's greatest plays to life. She shakes off the burdensome complexity of Shakespeare's language and tells the stories at the core of the plays. Sprinkled with her own dashes of wit and humor, her graceful, vivid retellings, using accessible language, are the perfect introduction to Shakespeare's work.
Nesbit's stories are also the perfect way for adults to brush up on the ins and outs of Shakespeare's plays. Who can remember the names of King Lear's three daughters? Was Romeo a Montagu or a Capulet? What, exactly, was Hamlet's problem?
All of these major works are included in this collection: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, As You Like It, The Winter's Tale, and Twelfth Night.
The text is illustrated throughout with dramatic black and white photographs from modern productions of the plays by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Stratford Festival (Ontario, Canada), and the Folger Library's Shakespeare Theater, bringing the action and characters to life. Also included is an afterword by Peter Hunt, a leading scholar of children's literature.
These retellings of the classic tales of one of the world's greatest playwrights remind us that it is never too early for Shakespeare.


Iona Opie

In ever think of her as “Edith.” It was “E. Nesbit” who took me on innumerable amazing adventures in my childhood and whose books have seen me through the doldrums of adulthood. (It is worth having the flu to be able to go to bed with a large mug of hot tea and a copy of The Story of the Treasure Seekers.) And now Oxford University Press has discovered that she wrote a volume of the stories of Shakespeare’s plays; I confess I never knew it existed. The book will be a great improvement to my life.

E. Nesbit, who had an original and incisive wit, could also be counted on to be as straightforward as a child, and as refreshingly honest. In works such as The Story of the Treasure Seekers, The Wouldbegoods, and The Railway Children, all published in England in the early part of the 20th century, she established what is generally agreed to be a new tone of voice for writing for children, one that was not condescending or preachy. Thus she turns out to have been exactly the right person to show what rattling good stories Shakespeare chose to clothe with heartrending beauty and uproarious knockabout comedy.

She says what she thinks, and what the rest of us have scarcely dared to say. We have always thought the Montagus and Capulets in Romeo and Juliet were silly not to end their quarrel, that they were inviting tragedy; Nesbit puts it much better—“they made a sort of pet of their

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