Told in Maggie O'Farrell's unique voice, HAMNET reveals for the first time in fiction the story of heartbreaking loss which inspired Shakespeare's most celebrated play
'Dazzling. Devastating' Kamila Shamsie
'Stunning... deserves to win prizes' Marian Keyes
A stunning new departure for Maggie O'Farrell's fiction, HAMNET is the heart-stopping story behind Shakespeare's most famous play.
On a summer's day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?
Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.
HAMNET is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker's son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.
A bold undertaking, beautifully imagined and written
The story of Hamnet Shakespeare has been waiting in the shadows for over four hundred years. Maggie O'Farrell brings it dazzlingly, devastatingly, into the light
Grief and loss so finely written I could hardly bear to read it
Heartstopping. Hamnet does for the Shakespeare story what Jean Rhys did for Jane Eyre, inhabiting, enlarging and enriching it in ways that will alter the reader's view for ever
Exquisite, immersive and compelling... deserves to win prizes
Maggie O'Farrell is the author of the Sunday Times no. 1 bestselling memoir I AM, I AM, I AM, and eight novels: AFTER YOU'D GONE, MY LOVER'S LOVER, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX, THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award, and HAMNET. She lives in Edinburgh.