Fiction & Poetry, Modern & Contemporary Fiction
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
An Interesting Read.
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Very well written, and gave an insight into life in England in the 16th Century. I found it absorbing and quite a "pa... READ MORE
Barry Boate
A Mother and son
A story that focuses on Shakespeare's family with William Shakespeare rarely there and never mentioned by name. The story of a mother, a sister and a lost ... READ MORE
Absolutely loved this book. Beautifully written and kept me completely absorbe to the very end. I wasn't sure whether this book was my type of read but am... READ MORE
Annette Sutton
Beautifully evocative but sad.
Really well-written and wonderful atmosphere. Clever handling of the writer himself, who is almost totally a shadow in this story. But unremittingly sad. O... READ MORE
Other-wordly and utterly transformative
I fell in love with this book. O'Farrell writes with so much care and creates a completely real and complex world. As a big Shakespeare fan, Hamnet offers ... READ MORE
Alice, South Yorkshire
As someone who has lived in Stratford upon Avon and not far from Anne Hathaway’s cottage, and now living in another country separated by the English Channe... READ MORE
Anne Moore
Uplifting and Moving
Hamnet is a wonderful, uplifting and moving novel, beautifully written and expertly crafted by a writer at the very top of her game. Maggie O'Farrell's dep... READ MORE
Thomas McLaughlin
I could smell the sixteenth century!
One of the best books I have ever read. Evocative words. I felt like I was living in sixteenth century Stratford- I could smell it! I had no idea when I w... READ MORE
Loved this book
Was a little bit sceptical before reading but absolutely so enjoyed the read. So well written it was easy to picture the characters, the countryside and th... READ MORE
Marion McCormick
When it's good it's very, very good...
...but the to-ing and fro-ing, the laboured feyness and the unnecessarily vast cast of indistinguishable extras drove me mad. As did the fact that one char... READ MORE
Helen Harding
Intriguing story
I love Maggie as an author! Her writing style draws me in every time & her way with words is captivating. I didn’t really know much about Shakespeare (fo... READ MORE
Nia ST
Not blown away
I wanted to love this book so much but I just didn't connect with it. I found the characters very stereotypical and I just wasn't gripped. Perhaps I'll go ... READ MORE
Louise Stephenson
Fabulous book!
So well written. Fabulous!
What a Book…
I’d never read anything by Maggie O’Farrell before. Whilst I’d read Shakespeare at school and picked up lots of references in novels set in Elizabethan tim... READ MORE
Fiona McNeill
Beautiful, moving
I enjoyed this book very much indeed, it's one of those books you keep thinking about for days after. The story is about Shakespeare's son Hamnet. It's t... READ MORE
Emma Richards
Spectacular & unlike anything I've read before
I have never read anything like Hamnet. I had no idea I needed a book like this in my life, but reading this over the past few days has been an absolute pl... READ MORE
An interesting mix of good and bad in a way I thought impossible
I got this book and was really looking forward to reading it because I am a massive fan of historical fiction and Shakespeare, maybe a set too high expecta... READ MORE
Ariella King-Cline
Emotive and atmospheric
I loved Hamnet! As someone who looks for historical fiction, I find that some books can be a bit too modern or not really catch the full vibe of the scene ... READ MORE
Aysha Sohail
Much Ado About Nothing
The author conveys the pain of parental grief powerfully. This is the only positive I can say about this novel. The prose is utterly turgid and annoyingly ... READ MORE
David Moffatt
Very moving
This is such a moving story. I love all her books, but this might be her best. It is so well imagined and I felt like I was transported back in time, it is... READ MORE
my favourite book of 2022
I must confess, historical fiction intimidates quite a bit. Maybe because I associate it to old classics where I've found the writing complicated and inacc... READ MORE
Filipa Mendonca
Absolutely heartbreaking in the best way
Maggie O'Farrell has thoroughly broken my heart with this book but in the most amazing way possible. Her writing hits all the key feelings and really makes... READ MORE
This is a truly stunning novel, beautifully written, moving and not what I expected. I’m not actually that interested in Shakespeare (sorry) so didn’t fanc... READ MORE
Sarah Dransfield
Extraordinary story-telling
This is the best book I’ve read in a long time (since Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series). So much so, I cannot wait to read it again. The characters are so ... READ MORE
Helena M
A Really interesting book
Really interesting. Gave a good insight into Shakespeares time although only a novel. Unusual angle as very little written about his family.
Pauline McMinn
Marvellous Interpretation
There has been a minimal amount of historical information, about one of the Greatest Britons. I think that this book steps into the breech very well. It ... READ MORE
Derek Beech
Fabulous and well written
Well worth reading
Is it William Shakespeare
It is easy to write about Will Shakespeare, comparatively little is known about him. Is it him? Only referred to as the lover, husband, playwright, neve... READ MORE
Margaret Keeson
One of my favourite novels
This novel is beautiful in every sense. The writing, the characters, the detail. Everything has a dream-like quality about it, which comes crashing into re... READ MORE
Alexandra Hamilton