“I loved Hamnet in very much the same way I loved Lincoln in the Bardo. This novel explores the way the dead haunt the living—especially how the death of a child haunts their parents—and does it in the context of a fascinating historical figure and time. But we know so much about the Lincolns, and so little about the Shakespeares. Maggie O’Farrell’s ability to construct a palpably real emotional life for all the members of the Shakespeare family—but especially for Shakespeare’s wife—is just magical. This is a powerful and haunting novel.”
— Nina Barrett, Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, IL
'She's like no one I've ever met... She's like fire and water all at once.'
Warwickshire, 1582. Agnes Hathaway, a natural healer, meets the Latin tutor, William Shakespeare. Drawn together by powerful but hidden impulses, they create a life together and make a family. As William moves to London to discover his place in the world of theatre, Agnes stays at home to raise their three children but she is the constant presence and purpose of his life. When the plague steals 11-year-old Hamnet from his loving parents, they must each confront their loss alone. And yet, out of the greatest suffering, something of extraordinary wonder is born. This new play based on Maggie O'Farrell's best-selling novel and adapted by award-winning playwright Lolita Chakrabarti (Life of Pi, Red Velvet, Hymn), pulls back a curtain on the imagined family life of the greatest writer in the English language. Hamnet is a love letter to passion, birth, grief and the magic of nature. This edition was published to coincide with the world premiere at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in April, 2023.
About the Author
Lolita Chakrabarti is a British actress and writer who has worked extensively on stage and screen. Her most recent acting theatre credits include The Great Game, Afghanistan for The Tricycle, Last Seen - Joy for the Almeida, Free Outgoing for the Royal Court and John Gabriel Borkman for the Donmar Warehouse. Her acting screen credits include The Casual Vacancy, Jekyll and Hyde, My Mad Fat Diary season 3, Vera, Outnumbered, Hustle, Extras Christmas Special, Holby City, Silent Witness, Amnesia, William and Mary, Fortysomething, Bodies, and Forgiven. Writing credits include The Goddess for Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4, Faith, Hope and Blue Charity, also on BBC Radio 4 and Last Seen - Joy for Slung Low and the Almeida. In 2012, Red Velvet was the first play performed under the Tricycle's new artistic director Indhu Rubasingham. It returned to the Tricycle in 2014 before having its US premiere at St Ann's Warehouse New York. Lolita Chakrabarti also runs Lesata Productions with Rosa Maggiora. Their short film won Best Short Narrative at PAFF, Los Angeles 2012. They are currently in development with their first feature. www.lesataproductions.co.uk Maggie O'Farrell was born in Northern Ireland in 1972. Her novels include Hamnet (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award), After You'd Gone, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, The Hand That First Held Mine (winner of the Costa Novel Award), and Instructions for a Heatwave. She has also written a memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death. She lives in Edinburgh.
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