Tender and moving
Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet is a fictionalised account of the short life of Shakespeare’s 11 year old son. Winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, the chair of judges Martha Lane Fox said O’Farrell’s novel was a “truly great” work of fiction and an “exceptional winner”.
England, 1580: The Black Death creeps across the land, an ever-present threat, infecting the healthy, the sick, the old and the young, alike. A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down.
Part of our ‘Beyond the Book’ Series View
Longer interview. Maggie O’Farrell talks about how the idea for “Hamnet” came to her, the way she imagines Shakespeare and his family, and what she learned in the process of writing the book. She is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev for Shakespeare Unlimited.Play
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O’Farrell explores the lives of the playwright’s family and the death of his only son. She has placed the bit players of the Shakespeare story centre stage, while the dramatist himself is never even named. This is primarily a portrait of a woman and her three children.Read Article
Historical novel connects death of a son with the birth of Hamlet Book. Maggie O’Farrell recreates Shakespeare’s family and that of Elizabethan England by John Self.Read Article
Hamnet beat novels including the third in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, and Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other, to win the £30,000 award. Alison Flood for the Guardian.Read Article
Authors Website Maggie O’Farrell
Official website, find out more about Maggie and her books.Read More
Hamnet: a play for Shakespeare’s forgotten son
Guardian article about the play Hamnet by Bush Moukarzel.Read More
King John, Constance’s Grief
Could the loss of his own son have influenced Shakespeare’s writings.Read More
All is True film
A review of the boldly fanciful but nuanced portrait of Shakespeare’s final years.Read More