Imagine looking down from a window in a London house onto a bustling street. Street urchins, pocketing pilfered goods, dart between women in long, full skirts and men sporting bright doublets. A cart rattles across the cobblestones, and a hasty path is cleared for it. Fishmongers hawk their wares from stalls along the street, and in a corner a small crowd is gathered  around a street performer. This was the vibrant London of Shakespeare’s time, filled with life and colour. 

What better way to start the summer than by diving into a new world? Two books that I particularly enjoy that explore Shakespeare’s world are Cue For Treason and The Shakespeare Stealer. They are engaging novels that would be good for a family read-aloud or a summer free read. 

Cue For Treason, by Geoffrey Trease, immerses you into the Elizabethan world, following Peter Brownrigg as he traipses around the countryside, fleeing evil Sir Philip Morton. On the way to London, he joins a traveling company of actors, along with another runaway, a girl named Kit, who has disguised herself as a boy so that she can act. The pair end up meeting a young, struggling Shakespeare, and begin acting in Shakespeare’s company. Meanwhile, a plot to kill Queen Elizabeth is afoot, and they must guard secrets and fight for their lives. Will they be able to foil the plot in time?

This book dives straight into the world of Elizabeth I, with vibrant descriptions of London and the Cumberland countryside intertwined with humourous escapades and an exciting chase through the fells. This is the perfect adventure book to start the summer off with! 

The Shakespeare Stealer, by Gary Blackwood, is another tale of Shakepare’s company. Widge is an orphan who is remarkably gifted in shorthand. His terrible master, the owner of a competing acting troupe, orders him to steal the new play Hamlet from Shakespeare. Widge wangles his way into Shakespeare’s troupe, attempting to steal the play, but instead, he begins to feel at home, befriending the actors, learning fencing and even acting in Hamlet. Soon, Widge is faced with a difficult decision: Will he betray his new friends, and lose the place where he belongs, or will he face the wrath of his master? 

This book is full of twists and turns, with glimpses into Shakespeare’s Globe and his company. It is a fairly short read that is quite exciting! It is the first book of a trilogy about Shakespeare’s company.

These books are a wonderful way to explore the world of Shakespeare! What books set in Shakespeare’s time do you enjoy?

William’s World – Books Set in Shakespeare’s Time