Deconstructing a good year for Shakespeare

1599 A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, By James Shapiro, Faber, E24.80

6th August, 2005

In 1599, Ireland in the English imagination was something akin to what Vietnam was to American recruits in the early 1970s mysterious, unknown, frightening. Ayear before, the English Elizabethan forces had suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of the Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O'Neill, in the Battle of the Yellow Ford.

The battle was described by one contemporary as “the greatest loss and dishonour the Queen hath had in her time'‘. Poorly-trained conscripts who had...

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