The Shakespeare Almanac is a day by day calendar of Shakespeare's year. It follows the rural farming cycle of lambing to sheep-shearing to harvest home, as they are referred to in Shakespeare's plays and poetry. It lists all the high days and holidays, from Christmas to Easter, Candelmas to Hocktide.
Every passing month is supplied with quotations from the plays about changeable weather patterns, or the flowers and plants as they appear, as well as the animals and birds he saw around him.
And each day, significant events during Shakespeare's lifetime are recorded. These might be family occasions: the christening of his twins, the marriage of one of his daughters, or the date when he bought his house in Stratford.
There are eye-witness accounts of duels and executions, an accident at a bear baiting, a tilt in Westminster, a masque at Whitehall. Some days are accompanied by extracts from influential books of the period. For example on 24 January, reputedly the gloomiest day of the year, there is a piece from Burton's Anatomy of Melancholia, which is surprisingly funny.
There are also accounts of discoveries round the globe, portraits of the Shogun of Japan and the murderous Czar of Russia, of elephant fights with the great Moghul Emperor Akbar.
The Shakespeare Almanac is a cornucopia of intriguing and wonderful details about the life and times of England's greatest playwright, complete with integrated illustrations.
The book has been lovingly compiled by Gregory Doran, Chief Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, described by the Sunday Times as 'one of the great Shakespearians of his generation'. 150