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UT Humanities Center: Public Books Circle with Professor Heather Hirschfeld
Discussion of Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell

During the Black Plague in 1580s England, a young Latin tutor named William Shakespeare falls in love with Agnes, a free-spirited woman who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer. They settle in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Agnes becomes a steadfast force for her young husband, whose career on the London stage is established just when their beloved 11-year-old son Hamnet succumbs to sudden fever. The novel asks us to imagine how his son’s death shaped the art of Shakespeare forever after. Geraldine Brooks notes that the novel is “about the transfiguration of life into art”; it is a luminous portrait of a marriage ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender re-imagining of a boy whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time.

Heather Hirschfeld is Kenneth Curry Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the UT Department of English. Professor Hirschfeld is a scholar of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British literature who specializes in Shakespearean drama. She has recently edited "The Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Comedy" and "The New Cambridge Shakespeare Hamlet," and is the author of the books "Joint Enterprises: Collaborative Drama and the Institutionalization of the English Renaissance Stage" and "The End of Satisfaction: Drama and Repentance in The Age of Shakespeare." She has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

(Union Ave Books in downtown Knoxville will be happy to handle your book order: )

May 19, 2021 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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