I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
This is the lecture series I wish existed back in high school. Prof. Conner gives us the means by which to understand the Bard on multiple levels, and at no point is he pretentious about it. The richness of the plays, the characters, the themes... it's all demystified and comes alive thanks to the tools that are offered and applied to about 2/3 of Shakespeare's repertoire.
The question of the Shakespearean "authorship problem" is addressed in a rather unique way here. The author comes right out and tells you that he believes in the idea that Shakespeare wrote his own works, but that the target of the book is instead to present a history of the debate itself, letting the very nature of the debate reveal its own merits and flaws. The cases for Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere are examined in depth, being representative of many of the other cases for alternate identity. The opinions of notables such as Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Henry James, and many others are spotlighted and, in many cases, skewered as being ridiculous and unfounded. And yet, at the same time, the case for the Bard seems ever stacked against him due to a lack of supporting evidence and the ever-widening gap between what we know about him and what is revealed in his works. As a result, the process of how the problem has evolved over the course of time is as interesting as the problem itself.
This book is easily accessible for both the casual reader as well as the scholarly-minded, so the curious at every level will have little difficulty taking it all in and walking away with more than they might have expected.