Welcome to Episode #007 of That Shakespeare Life, the podcast that takes you behind the curtain and into the life of William Shakespeare.

I believe that if you want to understand Shakespeare’s plays, then understanding the life of William Shakespeare, the man, is essential. This podcast is designed to help you explore early modern England as Shakespeare would have lived it by interviewing the historians, performers, authors, and experts that know him best.

Dr. David Bevington joins us today to talk about Religion in the 16th Century. I will be asking him to offer a brief explanation of the state of Catholic vs Protestant in England during Shakespeare’s lifetime, as well as what, if any, impact this climate had on the life and work of William Shakespeare himself.

Join the conversation below.

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Called “One of the most learned and devoted of Shakespeareans,” by Harold Bloom, Dr. David Bevington is an American literary scholar who specializes in British drama of the Renaissance, and has edited and introduced the complete works of William Shakespeare in both the 29-volume, Bantam Classics paperback editions and the single-volume Longman edition. Dr. Bevington remains the only living scholar to have personally edited Shakespeare’s complete corpus. He is a professor emeritus of the University of Chicago and won the Quantrell Award for outstanding achievements in teaching in 1979.

In this episode, I’ll be asking Dr. Bevington about :

  • What was the cause of this religious turmoil in Shakespeare’s lifetime?
  • What purpose does sorting out Shakespeare’s religion serve? Does it matter if he was catholic or protestant?
  • Was this idea that the reigning monarch was a stand in for God himself a popular idea of Shakespeare’s time?
  • …and more!


Books Dr. Bevington Recommends:

Dr. Bevington acknowledges that Shakespeare and his plays have been the focus of his career and therefore are, honestly, the biggest influence on his life. However, after Shakespeare, he’s a real fan of the classics and Jane Austen. Here are a few of the titles he mentions in this week’s episode:

Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace

Anna Karenina

Gustave Flaubert   Madame Bovary

George Eliot/ Mary Ann Evans   Middlemarch

Jane Austen  Northanger Abbey

The one he would take if he was sent off to jail and only allowed to take one book:
Emma by Jane Austen

Notably, Dr. Bevington officially states for listeners of That Shakespeare Life that his absolutely favorite book is (at least so far): Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

* I am using affiliate links here. I link over to the copies I either own already or that I would recommend you read. However, my links are not always the cheapest, so look at the “related titles” when you click the above link, you may find a cheaper title below my recommendation if getting the lowest price is your primary aim. Watch out for crazies. Not all of the books available online are actual or good versions of the book title they display. Don’t feel any pressure to purchase from these links. They are provided for your convenience and to help if you’re already considering buying a book. 

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