I think that Shakespeare is the greatest writer this country has ever seen. I’m sure I’m not alone in this opinion, so I thought I would share with you my selection of the best Shakespeare books and what I think makes him have such enduring appeal.
There are obviously different angles from which you might want to read about Shakespeare. I think the very first thing you need to do is read the plays. Maybe not all of them, but certainly some of them. In terms of The Complete Works, for scholars the best edition is the Norton Shakespeare, edited by American scholar Stephen Greenblatt. The Arden editions are also excellent if you want lots of accompanying notes. Arden should also be noted for publishing separately the different surviving versions of Hamlet: the Second Quarto and the First Quarto and First Folio together. If you just want a basic version of the plays, you can’t go wrong with Penguin or Oxford. It is also worth noting that there are 2 versions of Shakespeare’s ‘lost’ play, Cardenio. Arden published Lewis Theobald’s 18th Century version, Double Falsehood and Nick Hern have published the RSC's reimagining of the play which was staged for the first time this year.