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Shakespeare's Fathers and Daughters

Oliver Ford Davies

DOI: 10.5040/9781474290166

ISBN: 9781350038462

A theme that obsessed Shakespeare in over 20 plays from Titus Andronicus to The Tempest was the relationship between a daughter and her father. This study traces chronologically the development of this theme, relating it to the little we know of his own two daughters, and sheds new light on his exploration of the family that so dominated his approach to drama. Drawing on a lifetime's experience of playing Shakespearean roles, Oliver Ford Davies, a former university lecturer and now an Honorary Associate Artist of the RSC and Olivier Award winner, has written an engaging and deeply researched study of a topic that has intrigued him from playing Capulet in 1967, King Lear in 2002, to Polonius in 2008.

‘In Shakespeare's Fathers and Daughters, Davies uses his experience as a Shakespearean actor to examine the relationships between fathers (and “father surrogates”) and daughters throughout Shakespeare's works. Included are discussions of performance history and sources, character analysis, close readings, and references to recent and contemporary performances. The first four chapters-“Early Plays,” “Comedies,” "Tragedies and Tragicomedies,” and “Late Plays”- move through the plays with father/daughter relationships. The final three chapters-“Shakespeare and His Daughters,” “Fathers and Daughters in Contemporary Society,” and “Fathers and Daughters in Drama 1585–1620”-provide context for understanding Shakespeare's treatment of these relationships. In addition to the discussion of the plays, Davies discusses the characters of Capulet, Leonato, Polonius, and Lear in sections tagged "An Actor's Perpsective." In these, he shares his personal experiences with playing the father's role, offering insight into the process of preparing to perform Shakespeare. He includes excerpts from his exchanges with fellow actors about their characters-among those actors Mariah Gale, who played Ophelia to Davies's Polonius in the 2008 Royal Shakespeare Company production. Written in clear and engaging prose, this book will be of particular interest to those studying drama and performance studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.’ – CHOICE

‘A considered and convincing account of Shakespeare's development as a dramatist ... This is a useful and enjoyable book written from a perspective that very few people would be able to offer.’ – Times Higher Education