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Straight Acting

The Many Queer Lives of William Shakespeare

Will Tosh

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11 June 2024
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'Engrossing, enlightening and hugely entertaining'

SARAH WATERS, author of Fingersmith

'Brilliant - so vivid and so sharp, fantastically clever and consistently fascinating'

KATHERINE RUNDELL, author of Super-Infinite

Was Shakespeare gay? The answer is both simpler and more complex than you might think . . .

Shakespeare's work was profoundly influenced by the queer culture of his time - much of it totally integrated into mainstream society. From a relentless schooling in Latin and Greek homoeroticism, to a less formal education on the streets and in smoky taverns, from the gender-bending of the early comedies to the astonishingly queer literary scene that nurtured Shakespeare's sonnets, this is a story of artistic development and of personal crisis.

Straight Acting is a surprising portrait of Shakespeare's queer lives - his own and those in his plays and poems. It is a journey back in time and through Shakespeare's England, revealing a culture that both endorsed and supressed same-sex desire. It is a call to stop making Shakespeare act straight and to recognise how queerness powerfully shaped the life and career of the world's most famous playwright.

'Magisterial and saucy . . . This fresh account kickstarts the queer canon of English literature: Shakespeare won't go back in the closet again'

EMMA SMITH, author of This Is Shakespeare
Imprint:   Sceptre
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 154mm,  Spine: 30mm
Weight:   360g
ISBN:   9781529390483
ISBN 10:   1529390486
Pages:   304
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Will Tosh is Head of Research at Shakespeare's Globe, London. He is a scholar of early modern literature and culture, a dramaturg for Renaissance classics and new plays and an historical adviser for television and radio. He is the author of two academic books, and he appears regularly in the media to discuss Shakespeare and his world.

Reviews for Straight Acting: The Many Queer Lives of William Shakespeare

At once magisterial and saucy, Straight Acting gets to the heart of Shakespeare's queer literary formation. Will Tosh writes with clarity and cheek, drawing on forgotten contemporaries, reminding us of the cultural status of ancient Greek texts and their sexual mores, and remapping a homoerotic geography of Elizabethan London. His account is deeply researched - but most importantly, it breaks down the barriers between lived experience and desires today, and four centuries ago. This fresh account kickstarts the queer canon of English literature: Shakespeare won't go back in the closet again -- Emma Smith, author of THIS IS SHAKESPEARE

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