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About the book
  • Published: 18 November 2015
  • ISBN: 9780141396576
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $17.99

The Merry Wives Of Windsor




Relentlessly inventive and yet set in a familiar domestic world of everyday English life, this comic humiliation of a ridiculous would-be Romeo is an exuberant and ultimately joyful celebration of the restorative power of laughter.

William Shakespeare's comic encore for one of his best-loved characters - the rascally Falstaff from Henry IV and Henry V - The Merry Wives of Windsor is edited by G.R. Hibbard with an introduction by Catherine Richardson in Penguin Shakespeare.
'We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
Wives may be merry, and yet honest too'
In need of money, the fat and foolish Falstaff devises a scheme to seduce two married women and steal their husbands' wealth. By talking to each other, however, the wives soon discover his plan and begin to plot their own revenge. Relentlessly inventive, this comic humiliation of a foolish would-be seducer is a lively, compelling and ultimately joyous celebration of the all-conquering power of laughter.
This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to The Merry Wives of Windsor, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.
'It never yet had reader or spectator, who did not think it too soon at end'
Samuel Johnson

  • Pub date: 18 November 2015
  • ISBN: 9780141396576
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $17.99

About the Author

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, and was baptised on 26 April 1564. His father was a glove maker and wool merchant and his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a well-to-do local land owner. Shakespeare was probably educated in Stratford’s grammar school. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had a daughter the following year and twins in 1585.

Shakespeare’s theatrical life seems to have commenced around 1590. We do know that he was part of the Lord Chamberlain’s Company, which was renamed the King’s Company in 1603 when James I succeeded to the throne. The Company acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London, near the banks of the Thames - the Globe and the Blackfriars.

Shakespeare’s poetry was published before his plays, with two poems appearing in 1593 and 1594, dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Most of Shakespeare’s sonnets were probably written at this time as well.

Records of Shakespeare’s plays begin to appear in 1594, and he produced roughly two a year until around 1611. His earliest plays include Henry VI and Titus Andronicus. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Richard II all date from the mid to late 1590s. Some of his most famous tragedies were written in the early 1600s; these include Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Antony & Cleopatra. His late plays, often known as the Romances, date from 1608 onwards and include The Tempest.

Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623 and is known as ‘the First Folio’.

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