The Elizabethan age was a tumultuous time, when long-cherished certainties were crumbling and life was exhilaratingly uncertain. Shakespeare's Restless World uncovers the extraordinary stories behind twenty objects from the period to re-create an age at once distant and yet surprisingly familiar. From knife crime to belief in witches, religious battles to the horizons of the New World, Neil MacGregor brings the past to life in a fresh, unexpected portrait of a dangerous and dynamic era.
'Fascinating ... filled with anecdotes and insights, eerie, funny, poignant and grotesque ... another brilliant vindication of MacGregor's understanding of physical objects to enter deep into our fore-fathers' mental and spiritual world' Christopher Hart, Sunday Times
'Enjoyable and intriguing, an absorbing evocation ... he draws us into the minds of the Elizabethan and Jacobean audience. Next time you see one of the plays reading this book will make those first audiences seem real to you' Peter Lewis, Daily Mail
'How gripping are these tales from a lost world. And what a world Shakespeare's was - adventurous, melancholy, rich and plagued by beggary, courteous and quarrelsome, sceptical and credulous' Daily Telegraph
'Elegant, informative ... provides stimulating insights' Anne Somerset, Spectator
Neil MacGregor was Director of the National Gallery, London from 1987 to 2002 and of the British Museum from 2002 to 2015. His previous books include A History of the World in 100 Objects, Shakespeare's Restless World and Germany: Memories of a Nation, all available in Penguin and now between them translated into more than a dozen languages. For his work on the BBC Radio 4 series, British Museum exhibition and book Germany: Memories of a Nation, he was awarded (in Germany) the Friedrich Gundolf Prize, the Goethe Medal and the German National Prize and (in the UK) the British Academy's Nayef Al-Radhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding. In 2010, he was made a member of the Order of Merit, the UK's highest civil honour. He is now Chair of the Steering Committee of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin.