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Sweet William

Twenty Thousand Hours with Shakespeare

Michael Pennington

Published by Nick Hern Books January 2012

ISBN 978 1 85459 568 3

Michael Pennington is a great Shakespearean actor who writes with the authority of an academic. His book analyses the plays, the characters and the playwright’s life. It will intrigue, entertain and challenge students, actors and their audiences. It undoubtedly leads the field in modern Shakespeare scholarship.

Ian McKellen

There are very few who can bring to Shakespeare the thoughts that are born in the burning heart of hard earned experience. Michael Pennington not only knows what he means, he has the writer’s talent to put this into irresistibly readable words.

Peter Brook

Funny and informative, passionate and practical, this wonderful book will, like Shakespeare himself, enthral readers of every age

Juliet Stevenson

Return to Sweet William

“Michael Pennington’s solo show about Shakespeare, Sweet William,has been acclaimed throughout Europe and in the US as a unique blend of showmanship and scholarship. In this book, he deepens his exploration of Shakespeare’s life and work - and the connection between the two - that lies at its heart.it is illuminated throughout by the unrivalled insights into the plays that Pennington has gained from the twenty thousand hours he has spent working on them as a leading actor, an artistic director and a director - and as the author of three previous books on individual Shakespeare plays.

With practical analysis, wonderfully detailed and entertaining interpretations of characters and scenes, and vivid reflections on Shakespeare’s theatre and ours, the result is a masterclass of the most enjoyable kind for theatregoers, professionals students and anyone interested in Shakespeare.”

Michael has written an introduction to the book which appears on the Nick Hern web site blog. You can read it by clicking here


Michael Pennington talks to Tom Wicker about his new book Sweet William


From Macbeth to Lear - a lifelong love affair with Shakespeare

Western Morning News

21st April 2012

“Michael Pennington’s book will excite and enchant….”

-British Theatre Guide

…I can’t remember when I learned so much from a single volume…a must-read for anyone interested in Shakespeare from almost any angle…

-The Stage

My book SWEET WILLIAM - TWENTY THOUSAND HOURS WITH SHAKESPEARE has been nominated for the Theatre Book of the Year Award named after Sheridan Morley. The ceremony is on Wednesday 27th February. I'm there with a 16.66% chance, as are Simon Callow, Rupert Everett, Arthur Laurents (or his estate), Sue Prideaux and Kate Bassett.

All the best and thanks for your interest !

Michael Pennington

Unfortunately, Michael missed out on the prize as it was awarded to Rupert Everett.

The paperback version of Sweet William will be published in December 2013 under a slightly different title: SWEET WILLIAM – A USER’S GUIDE TO SHAKESPEARE.

To listen to Michael’s talk at the National Theatre click on the following link:

https://soundcloud.com/nationaltheatre/micha el-pennington-on