Share 11 Books Inspired by Shakespeare

11 Books Inspired by Shakespeare

Allison Tyler thinks a good book and a cup of tea help cure what ails you. If you're looking for her, she's probably painting in the woods.

It’s been 400 years since William Shakespeare shuffled off his mortal coil on April 23, 1616. To honor the Bard of Avon, we’ve compiled a list of some of the greatest novels influenced by his vast endowment of words. From comedy to tragedy, family foibles to mistaken identity, and every facet of love from the bitter to the sweet, perhaps no one else in the past four centuries has left such a compelling and malleable legacy for writers, and readers, to sink their teeth into.


A Thousand Acres
by Jane Smiley
Redolent of Shakespeare’s KING LEAR, this Pulitzer Prize winner is a thought-provoking and melancholy exploration of the aftermath of a farmer cutting his youngest daughter from his will. It poignantly spans themes of love and treachery, but most of all, the terminal condition of being part of a human family.
A Thousand Acres
Jane Smiley

An ambitious reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear cast upon a typical American community in the late twentieth century, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel takes on themes of truth, justice, love, and pride, and reveals the beautiful yet treacherous topography of humanity.

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Juliet
by Anne Fortier

Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy and is launched into a perilous adventure of Shakespearean proportions. Delving in the history of her ancestor Giulietta—whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo rocked the foundations of medieval Siena—Julie begins to realize that the notorious curse (“A plague on both your houses!”) is still at work.

Juliet
Anne Fortier

Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy and is launched into a perilous adventure of Shakespearean proportions. Delving in the history of her ancestor Giulietta—whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo rocked the foundations of medieval Siena—Julie begins to realize that the notorious curse (“A plague on both your houses!”) is still at work.

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The Great Night
by Chris Adrian

Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM was the jumping-off point for this quirky, meandering, at times macabre fairy tale of magic, love, and human yearning that opens in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park in 2008. A unique and curious literary mash-up.

The Great Night
Chris Adrian

Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM was the jumping-off point for this quirky, meandering, at times macabre fairy tale of magic, love, and human yearning that opens in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park in 2008. A unique and curious literary mash-up.

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The Daughter of Time
by Josephine Tey
Thirty-five years ago the Crime Writers’ Association chose the THE DAUGHTER OF TIME as the greatest mystery novel ever written. This historical whodunit is a defense of Richard III, and counters Shakespeare’s own Richard III, bringing into question the Bard’s motive for crafting his villainous character as he did.
The Daughter of Time
Josephine Tey

Re-creating one of history’s most famous—and vicious—crimes, THE DAUGHTER OF TIME investigates who really killed Richard III’s nephews, the Princes in the Tower, and reveals the usurpers lying in wait behind the British throne.

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The Tragedy of Arthur
by Arthur Phillips

The discovery and impending publication of a long-lost Shakespearean play is at the center of this winding, wholly original family drama that will have you questioning what’s fact and what’s fiction.

The Tragedy of Arthur
Arthur Phillips

The discovery and impending publication of a long-lost Shakespearean play is at the center of this winding, wholly original family drama that will have you questioning what’s fact and what’s fiction.

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Juliet's Nurse
by Lois Leveen

This sumptuous tragicomedy of Juliet Cappelletti’s wet-nurse, a mother still in mourning from the death of her own infant, explores bonds of love perhaps more all-encompassing than that of the doomed young lovers from the Shakespeare classic that inspired it.

Juliet's Nurse
Lois Leveen

This sumptuous tragicomedy of Juliet Cappelletti’s wet-nurse, a mother still in mourning from the death of her own infant, explores bonds of love perhaps more all-encompassing than that of the doomed young lovers from the Shakespeare classic that inspired it.

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Two Gentlemen of Lebowski
by Adam Bertocci
If William Shakespeare had written the cult classic “The Big Lebowski,” this clever take on THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA would be the end result. An interwoven tale of ridiculousness, bowling, and mistaken identity, this novel was also a huge hit when adapted for the stage.
Two Gentlemen of Lebowski
Adam Bertocci

Let’s get the shameless advertising over with quickly, shall we? This here is my contribution to literary culture, a critically-acclaimed and modestly-priced mashup of The Big Lebowski with the works of Shakespeare. It’s been praised by everyone from Jeff Bridges to the Royal Shakespeare Company. But enough about me. -Adam Bertocci

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Fool
by Christopher Moore
Christopher Moore, with his usual satiric wit, pegs jester Pocket as the narrator in this comedic (and bawdy!) take on Shakespeare’s KING LEAR and his power-hungry family.

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William Shakespeare's Star Wars
by Ian Doescher
Imagine George Lucas’s pop-culture icon “Star Wars” told in high-culture iambic pentameter, and you’ll get a feel for what this novel is about. R2-D2’s soliloquies are the icing on the cake. This illustrated hardcover edition is a great gift for every geek you know, no matter what their passion.
William Shakespeare's Star Wars
Ian Doescher

Do well enough and you might get to be someone else’s comp title. When Two Gentlemen came out I mused that if it did well, we might see a further slew of Shakespeare-movie mashups. For once in my life, it seems I wasn’t wrong. First out of the gate (in the realm of published books, anyway) is this adaptation of the greatest movie ever made. I’m pleased to learn that I’m not the only person on Earth who’d be the target audience for such a thing. -Adam Bertocci

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The Madness of Love
by Katharine Davies

This elegantly written take on Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT, told from various characters’ perspectives, begins with a young man diving to his death, traverses an interwoven love story, and is punctuated with wonderful botanical references. A beautiful and unique debut novel.

The Madness of Love
Katharine Davies

This elegantly written take on Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT, told from various characters’ perspectives, begins with a young man diving to his death, traverses an interwoven love story, and is punctuated with wonderful botanical references. A beautiful and unique debut novel.

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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
by David Wroblewski

In this extraordinary retelling of HAMLET, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote Wisconsin. Although born mute, Edgar seems poised to carry on his family’s traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
David Wroblewski

In this extraordinary retelling of HAMLET, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote Wisconsin. Although born mute, Edgar seems poised to carry on his family’s traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.

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