What's so friendly about William Shakespeare? Haven't we all spent dutiful hours trying to make ourselves enjoy reading the Bard - with mixed results? The Friendly Shakespeare will change all that - it's a book that will delight anyone who ever shuddered at a soliloquy or nodded off the moment an actor said "doth." It's crammed full of solid but never simplistic information; it's intelligent without being overly intellectual, but with the depth to satisfy even those for whom reading Shakespeare is already a delight. The Friendly Shakespeare is written for people who think Shakespeare is, to quote Laurence Olivier, "not for the likes of them." It includes the major plays - histories, tragedies, comedies, and problem plays - but in between you'll find the real plot of Hamlet; raging controversies - like just who was Shakespeare - and was he actually Queen Elizabeth I? And who was the Dark Lady, anyway?; a look at Shakespeare on film - and a complete filmography; "the most insipid, ridiculous play I ever saw" (Samuel Pepys), and other quotes from Shakespeare haters (like Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw); Shakespeare's ambiguous sexuality - or, was the Bard gay?; a half-dozen ways to say "Scram!" in Elizabethan English, and a glossary of Shakespearean invective; a look at the Elizabethan stage; practical advice from actors on how to read Shakespeare aloud and curious Shakespeareana about the numerous cranks and eccentrics drawn to Shakespeare throughout the ages. Designed to make reading Shakespeare a pleasure, every page of The Friendly Shakespeare is complemented by illustrations, photographs, and sidebars. With infectious enthusiasm and breezy erudition, Norrie Epstein has written acompulsively readable, slightly irreverent book that - at last! - makes Shakespeare not only accessible, but irresistible.