Silver Travel Book Club - February 2020

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Silver Travel Book ClubEach month, we'll find out what Andrew is reading about a different destination, and two lucky Silver Travel Book Club readers can win a free copy of the month's book.

HF HolidaysThis month the Silver Travel Book Club – proudly sponsored by
HF Holidays – is reading Shakespeare: The World As A Stage by Bill Bryson.

From bestselling author and travel writer Bill Bryson comes this compelling short biography of William Shakespeare, our greatest dramatist and poet.

Examining centuries of myths, half-truths and downright lies, Bill Bryson makes sense of the man behind the masterpieces. As he leads us through the crowded streets of Elizabethan England, he brings to life the places and characters that inspired Shakespeare’s work. Along the way he delights in the inventiveness of Shakespeare’s language, which has given us so many of the indispensable words and phrases we use today, and celebrates the Bard’s legacy to our literature, culture and history.

Drawing together information from a vast array of sources, this is a masterful account of the life and works of William Shakespeare, one of the most famous and most enigmatic people ever to have lived – not to mention a classic piece of Bill Bryson.

HF Holidays – Just Shakespeare in the Cotswolds

Anne Hathaway's CottageGuests can immerse themselves in the world of William Shakespeare, arguably the greatest ever playwright. Journey to Stratford-upon-Avon to walk in his footsteps and explore the houses associated with him. See the place he was born and is buried. Visit the beautiful thatched cottage which once belonged to the family of his wife, Anne Hathaway and enjoy a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Departure: 17 April 2020 or 2 October 2020
Price: 3 nights from £535pp

Holiday highlights

  • Walk in the footsteps of William Shakespeare
  • Delve into Shakespeare's personal life
  • Enjoy a play the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

What’s included

  • High-quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our country house
  • The guidance and services of our knowledgeable HF Holidays Leader, ensuring you get the most from your holiday
  • All transport on touring days on a comfortable, good-quality mini-coach
  • All admissions to places of interest that form part of your holiday itinerary, excluding National Trust and English Heritage properties

More details

Staying at HF Holidays Country House Harrington House

In one of the prettiest spots in the Cotswolds, Harrington House provides a stylish escape in the form of a traditional country retreat, with the trimmings and flourishes you’d expect.

All set in a stately Georgian house that mirrors the mellow architectural styles of the Cotswolds and retains many of its original features; the most breathtaking is the sunny walled garden, surrounded by attractive landscaped gardens.

As well as 29 bedrooms, two lounges, a cosy bar and pleasant dining room, there are further feathers in this handsome house’s hat. Quintessential English countryside, described by JB Priestly as, ‘the most English and least spoiled of all our countryside’, is just a short stroll away with pretty villages such as Chipping Campden and the Slaughters, rolling landscapes and classic trails from the Cotswold Way to the Gloucestershire Way and Monarch Way, waiting for you to discover them.

More details

Harrington House
Harrington House

Shakespeare: The World As A StageHow to win a copy of 'Shakespeare: The World As A Stage' by Bill Bryson

Simply add a comment at the end of this page to tell us what is your favourite Shakespearian play or memorable moment - this could even be from your school days!

Read more about all of our Silver Travel Book Club books.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 42 Comment(s)

  • FKarbal
    4 months ago
    Many years ago, The Tempest was the set play for "O" level English Literature. Our teacher decided it would be good if we had a class outing to see a local production of the play. Unfortunately, she had not seen the production herself, otherwise she would not have taken us to see it. The production was "modern" which meant they had decided that the cast should all be dressed in the latest 1970s fashions (bellbottoms, platform shoes, etc.) The premise was that the whole story was a bad acid trip of Ferdinand's, and various other roles also seemed to involve use of illegal substances. Needless to say, we all found the production really confusing and it was no help to us in passing our "O' level, although we did learn quite a lot of druggie lingo!
  • SarahW
    4 months ago
    It would be Romeo & Juliet, my favourite, especially when a ballet performance.
  • Upstart
    5 months ago
    London 1967, the Summer of Love. I’m outside the Theatre Royal Haymarket. My mum approaches along the crowded pavement. She’s had that blue dress since before my dad died. I’m wearing a pelmet-length Mary Quant knock-off.
    I moved to London two years ago and I don’t see Mum very often, especially since I’ve recently met the Love of My Life.
    We have tickets so see The Merchant of Venice. Sir Ralph Richardson is Shylock. It’s my first West End show. We sit in the dress circle. The theatre gleams velvet and gold. The low hum of conversation dies as the lights dim and the curtain rises.
    Geilgud’s Shylock is a bitter man, a Jew in a Christian land, reviled and humiliated. Jessica, his daughter, runs away to gain the freedom to marry the man she loves. ‘Go girl,’ I think, as she asserts her independence and finds happiness with Lorenzo. Shylock, a widower, faces life alone. My eyes fill with tears at his sadness
    After the play Mum says she’ll find her own way to the station. She touches my arm, turns and walks away. I watch the small figure in the blue dress until she disappears. Now I can get back to the Love of My Life. Jessica’s words come into my mind: ‘…love is blind and lovers cannot see the pretty follies that themselves commit…’
    Shakespeare gets into our hearts and heads, no matter that he was writing 400 years ago. His characters share the same dilemmas as us, they make the same mistakes, fall in and out of love. We all have our Shakespeare memories, our lives touched by his genius.
  • SilverTravelEditor
    5 months ago
    Thanks for all your brilliant Shakespearian highlights and memories.

    There are still a few days to be in with a chance of winning Bill Bryson's fab book 'Shakespeare: The World As A Stage' - just let us know what is your favourite play from the Bard, or memorable Shakespearian moment, by the end of next Saturday, 29th February.
  • ggdino
    5 months ago
    It has to be Othello, small cast, so it relies on the 2 main lead characters plus the greatest Shakespearean villain of them all, the awesome Iago.
    The passions and torment suffered by both Othello and Desdemona are truly awe inspiring, but yet Iago's villainy sets him as the most memorable character in the play, and he is only finally eclipsed by the death scene at the end of the play, which leaves any audience dumbstruck as their emotions have been wrenched as they too were drawn into the madness that befell the black moor, the great Othello.
  • CharlieC
    5 months ago
    Saw a very young Kenneth Branagh as Henry V in Stratford - we all thought he'd go far...
  • GypsyWanderer
    5 months ago
    I feel I have grown up with Shakespeare, or Wag a Dagger as we school girls disrespectfully called him. He was there from the time I entered secondary school and has remained part of my life. I studied English literature, then drama at college, more Shakespeare and still reciting, from memory, the speeches I was instructed to learn for homework.
    I have been to Stratford, to find Shakespeare there and have listened to the arguments surrounding him. Was he really a commoner? How could a commoner have known so much about Italy, have written so beautifully? Was he a noble man writing under false name. My cousin, who has lived in Italy most of her life, and who is married to an Italian, insists he was Italian!
    My most memorable Shakespearean experiences have been at the Theatre, a dreadful amateur performance of ‘Othello’ with a weedy little man in the main role. This was a school trip. It was hard not too laugh and there was much suppressed giggling. But, fortunately, I have been lucky enough to see some amazing productions. The first was A Midsummer’s Night Dream directed by Peter Brook and set in a white box with minimalist scenery and props. The second was to at the delightful Mermaid Theatre, where Ian McKellen played Edward the second, again in 1970. I had to suppress a scream at the death scene, so engrossed was I. And my last wonderful Shakespeare experience was a few years ago at the Barbican Theatre where I was treated to the three history plays in two days. I was not so excited about going, thinking really heavy, but am I glad I accepted. If I had been given tickets for the following week and would have been there again.
    Yes, Shakespeare is a part of my life and I would love this book. You can never get too much of the Bard.

  • Bee
    5 months ago
    Went to see The Merry Wives of Windsor at Stratford, absolutely brilliant. Would be lovely to visit the theatre there again.
  • happytraveller
    5 months ago
    I enjoy reading Bill Bryson's books, often amusing and would enjoy reading this biography of William Shakespeare.
  • Anne1952
    5 months ago
    I recently saw King Lear at the Tobacco factory in Bristol. It was very good.
  • Sararose
    5 months ago
    I loved seeing Midsummer Night's Dream performed in the open air at Newstead Abbey which was Lord Byron's home for many years. The Abbey is beautiful as are the extensive gardens and lawns so it is a wonderful setting for my favourite Shakespeare comedy. For once it did not rain - what could be better than watching the midsummer frolics on a warm evening in the open air?
  • Christinawad
    5 months ago
    My favourite is Romeo and Juliet although it has a bitter end.
  • PaulineTurner
    5 months ago
    My favourite is Macbeth, even though it is a dark take of ambition and murder. I studied this at school with an inspiring English master, who was a brilliant teacher but also an extremely angry man who was often in a towering rage! Everyone in the class knew the play inside out, and we all passed out English Literature O level. I have never been sure whether it was due to brilliant teaching or fear!!!
  • Beatlejan
    5 months ago
    My favourite was seeing A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Grosvenor Park open air theatre in Chester with my husband one balmy summer night under the stars. Truly magical. The casting of identical twins as Ppuck was a master stroke, adding magic & hilarity to my favourite Shakespeare play....apart from all his others of course!
  • SuzCG
    5 months ago
    My favourite was seeing my son as Puck in A Midsummer Nights Dream - the only role he wanted at audition and he loved playing it.
  • scrumpy
    5 months ago
    I love Bill Bryson's books, so funny & clever, books worth reading!
  • SilverTravelEditor
    5 months ago
    Some wonderful comments coming in about your favourite Shakespearian play or memorable moment. Thanks for taking the time to dredge through those memory banks, some of you going back a fair few years to school days!
    A little off-piste, perhaps, but I chuckle every time I catch a few scenes of 'Shakespeare in Love'. Wittily scripted by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, and superbly acted by Joseph Fiennes, it portrays Master William struggling with writer's block, and leading a rather louche life. A very funny, alternative view of our greatest playwright!
  • Hardyplant
    5 months ago
    During my time as a school secretary in a secondary school I accompanied a group on a visit to see Twelfth Night at The Globe when Mark Rylance was the artistic director and also played Olivia in the production. I shall never forget it - the most amazing Shakespearean performance I have ever seen.
  • DRolls
    5 months ago
    I was surprised at how many lines from Hamlet popped into my head when visiting Kronborg castle in the town of Helsingør, Denmark, the supposed location of the story.
  • pengwen
    5 months ago
    We studied Julius Caesar for our A levels,only to find out shortly before the exam that it was a different book we should have been studying! I scraped through with a pass !Would like enjoy read more about the Bard.
  • MaisieAnne
    5 months ago
    Loved the Globe theatre - so atmospheric.
  • budutbaa
    5 months ago
    Never tire of reading about the great Bard!
  • Janet-from-Inverness
    5 months ago
    A recent visit to and tour of the Globe Theatre. Would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys Shakespeare.
  • Ozdevon
    5 months ago
    Actually I am not a great fan of the man. Perhaps this book will change my mind?
  • From-marge
    5 months ago
    My favourite is without doubt 'Antony and Cleopatra. A real show-stopper of love, jealousy, politics and war set against the dramatic backdrops of Rome and Egypt, it is all the more poignant for us silver travel advisors since it is about the real, deep and powerful love of two middle-aged people who have already seen so much in life (unlike the much better known and more popular Romeo and Juliet). These are two all too imperfect lovers who experience all the joys and sorrows that love often brings with it and ultimately both are immortalised at the height of their glory. Of the Egyptian Queen, Shakespeare says "Age cannot wither her nor custom stale her infinite variety" and of the gnarled Roman Triumvir that "His legs bestrid the ocean" while His rear'd arm crested the world". They are indeed majestic!