Paperback Published on: 01/04/2021
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Bookseller Reviews

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Not being a great fan of Shakespeare I thought I would give this a go.It is a fictional story of Shakespeare's son Hamnet. Although Shakespeare is not men... READ MORE
Sally Boocock
Profound and sparkling historical fiction
When new books are so hyped I’m often put off, mostly out of a stubborn unwillingness to be reading what everyone else is. However, when the rave reviews a... READ MORE
Beautiful writing
Having read Maggie o'Farrell before in 'I am, I am , I am ', Hamnet is not at all what I expected from her writing. This piece of historical fiction was w... READ MORE
3.5 stars
I must be the only person ever that did not enjoy this book. I personally thought it was mediocre and I found it extremely hard to connect or even like the... READ MORE
An astoundingly clear portrait of grief.
Once I began reading Hamnet i could not put it down. It was so enjoyable to explore the short life of this little boy, and it was a joy to be immersed in t... READ MORE
A Gorgeous Meditation on Grief
I've loved Maggie O'Farrell ever since I read The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. Her subject matter ranges far and wide, but you can always trust that whate... READ MORE
Katy Wheatley


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; a 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.

  • Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
  • ISBN: 9781472223821
  • Number of pages: 384
  • Weight: 332g
  • Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 32 mm

Customer Reviews

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There are better Shakespeare-adjacent retellings
This was so uneven. Poor characterisation throughout. I don't know why Agnes/Anne Hathaway has been depicted as some witchy forest child sorceress who can... READ MORE
Kristina Wilde
The fact that the author wanted to leave out the best bit says it all. Worth a quick read but not much more.
David Evans
Brilliant book
I am just rereading Hamnet for my book group. I think it is even better the second time around. The detail is absolutely wonderful, and the writing style ... READ MORE
Deirdre  Honey
Much Ado About Nothing
I regret wasting my time reading this. The prose is turgid, repetitive, and over-laden with similes and metaphors. The plot is non-existent, apart from: a ... READ MORE
David Moffatt
Utterly enthralling, this is yet another dose of Maggie O’Farrell brilliance.
Hamnet is the eighth novel by award-winning British author, Maggie O’Farrell. In the summer of 1596, an eleven-year-old boy, the grandson of a Stratford-up... READ MORE
Marianne Vincent