Shakespeare Was a Woman and Other Heresies at the London Library

Shakespeare Was a Woman and Other Heresies at the London Library

Shakespeare Was a Woman and Other Heresies (In person) at the London Library

Thursday 06 Jun 2024

The idea that Shakespeare may not have written the works that bear his name is, to some, tantamount to blasphemy. His biography is sketchy, to say the least, but to question his identity has become a literary anathema. 

In her new book, Shakespeare Was a Woman and Other Heresies, journalist and literary critic Elizabeth Winkler sets out to probe the origins of this taboo, pulling back the curtain to show how the forces of nationalism and empire, religion and mythmaking, gender and class have shaped our admiration for Shakespeare across the centuries. And as she explores who may, perhaps, have been hiding behind his name, she also confronts the larger problem of historical truth—and of how human imperfections (bias, blindness, subjectivity) shape our construction of the past. History is a story, and the story we find may depend on the story we’re looking for.

Delving into this history, mystery and the unspeakable possibilities underpinning our understanding of the Bard, Elizabeth Winkler will be joined at the Library by one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of our time, Sir Derek Jacobi. They’ll be in conversation with author and critic, Stephanie Merritt

Sir Derek Jacobi began his acting career as one of the founding members of the National Theatre and has gone on to play countless roles on stage and screen. His awards include a BAFTA, a Tony, Emmys, Olivier Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and he was given a knighthood for his services to theatre in 1994. He has played award-winning roles in multiple stage and screen productions of Shakespeare’s plays including HamletOthelloMuch Ado About NothingMacbethTwelfth NightThe TempestKing Lear and Romeo and Juliet.

Elizabeth Winkler is a journalist and critic whose work has appeared in The Wall Street JournalThe New YorkerThe New RepublicThe Times Literary Supplement, and The Economist, among other publications. She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and her master’s in English literature from Stanford University. Her essay ‘Was Shakespeare a Woman?’, first published in The Atlantic, was selected for The Best American Essays 2020. She lives in Washington, DC.

Stephanie Merritt is the author of 13 books, including the bestselling Elizabethan historical crime series written as SJ Parris, which has sold over a million copies in the UK. She is a former Deputy Literary Editor of the Observer, where she continues to contribute articles on books and current affairs, and has written for a variety of other newspapers and magazines. She appears regularly on Radio 4 and as chair and presenter at literary and arts festivals, including the Hay, Cheltenham and Edinburgh book festivals. Her most recent novel is Alchemy, which was a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller.

Books by the speakers, including Shakespeare Was a Woman and Other Heresies, will be available to purchase at the event and online through our partner bookshop Hatchards.

NB This event will take place in person at The London Library. Doors (and the bar) open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.  

To book tickets please click on the following link: