Books Like Hamnet
Despite being one of the most legendary poets and playwrights in history, there is still a lot that is not known about William Shakespeare. His plays remain popular to this day in theaters worldwide, but many details of his private life are steeped in mystery and speculation. However, his endearing popularity has inspired many authors to incorporate Shakespeare in their works or base their novels on characters and settings created by the bard. For example. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell is a fictional account of Shakespeare's son, who died at the tender age of 11. For more stories steeped in Shakespeare's life or lore, check out the following books like Hamnet.
by Benet Brandreth
The Spy of Venice by Benet Brandreth is a historical thriller with a swashbuckling twist that portrays Shakespeare in a completely different light. It opens with Shakespeare fleeing to Stratford to seek his fortune. Here he falls in with a band of players but ends up being recruited by powerful men who have an extraordinary mission for the talented young wordsmith. Shakespeare is dispatched to Venice but finds himself the target of Catholic assassins instructed to put an end to his mission. To make matters worse, Shakespeare also has to contend with a cruel, calculating killer lurking in the shadows. The Spy of Venice is set during the "lost years" of Shakespeare's life and is filled with allusions to his work that will delight fans.
by Harry Turtledove
Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove is set in 1597, where the island of Britain has been under the rule of King Philip in the name of Spain for nearly a decade already. Queen Elizabeth is imprisoned in the Tower of London, and the citizenry lives under an enforced curfew. To keep them in line, the Inquisition's agents won't hesitate to put heretics to the torch. William Shakespeare is the protagonist of this tale, but he has no interest in getting involved with politics. Instead, he focuses on his passion, which is the theater where he can bring laughter and tears to the populace with his words. However, Shakespeare is given the opportunity of a lifetime; write a drama that will change the course of history by inciting the people of Britain to rise against their persecutors.
by Jacopo della Quercia
Jacopo della Quercia casts William Shakespeare as a James Bond-style secret service agent in his novel License to Quill. It is set during history's real-life Gunpowder Plot and stars Shakespeare along with Christopher Marlowe and other historical figures. Equipped with all kinds of high-tech gadgets by Francis Bacon, Shakespeare must thwart Guy Fawkes and an army of witches. The story also delves into the mysterious origins of Shakespeare's most haunting play, Macbeth. The mixture of historical facts and humorous fiction makes this an excellent book for fans familiar with Shakespeare's work and newcomers alike.
by Mary Sharratt
The Dark Lady's Mask is a bildungsroman by Mary Sharratt that focuses on Shakespeare's muse, Aemilia Bassano Lanier. Stuck in a loveless marriage and restricted by the societal norms of her time, Aemilia frequently cross-dresses to enjoy the freedoms reserved for men. A chance encounter with a little-known poet named Shakespeare changes her life as the two outsiders agree to leave London behind and head for Italy. As the two secretly write comedies together in Italy, Shakespeare falls in love with the beautiful country and Aemilia. Unfortunately, Shakespeare gains fame and fortune back in London for the plays he wrote with Aemilia, which changes everything.
by Karen Harper
Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper is a historical fiction novel that explores another mysterious element of the bard's life. It follows the life of Anne Whateley, a woman who has divided opinions among scholars. Some believe that she never existed and her name was just a clerical error in a document about Shakespeare's marriage. Others think that she was a rival to Hathaway, the woman who Shakespeare ended up marrying. In Mistress Shakespeare, Anne is portrayed as the bard's true love who follows him from Stratford-Upon-Avon to London, continuing their secret union. The story spans half a century of Elizabethan and Jacobean history in a sweeping epic about the power of true love.
by Sarah A. Hoyt
Ill Met By Moonlight is a novel by Sarah A. Hoyt that is filled with references to Shakespeare's works. William is a humble schoolmaster who arrives home one day only to find his wife and infant daughter kidnapped. The children of Titania and Oberon appear to be behind the kidnapping, but saving his family from the fairies of Arden Woods is not going to be easy. It seems that a feud is waging in fairyland as the king regent and his younger brother are both vying for the throne. Ill Met by Moonlight offers a unique and magical explanation for how the bard got the inspiration for some of his most famous lines and stories.
by Leonard Tourney
Time's Fool by Leonard Tourney is a Shakespearean murder mystery that sees the bard fighting for his reputation and life. It begins when the playwright is contacted by the former love of his life, who intends to blackmail him by exposing their affair to the world. However, she loses her life in a fire, which Shakespeare soon discovers was not an accident. To make matters worse, Shakespeare finds himself stalked by someone who is hellbent on ruining his life. Framed for a murder that he did not commit, Shakespeare is determined to prove his innocence and find out who it is with a vendetta against him.