Hatchards’ Book of the Week: “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell

Evoking a richly authentic Elizabethan world where existence was ever precarious, Maggie O’Farrell’s intensely moving novel envisions the short life of Hamnet Shakespeare, only son of the world’s greatest ever playwright.

Hamnet’s name would be given, as Hamlet, to one of the most celebrated plays ever written by Shakespeare just four years after the boy’s death. Yet, still, little is known.

Maggie O’Farrell, however, found inspiration in those silences and absences of history and biography to tell this story of family and loss through the lives of Hamnet’s mother, Anne Hathaway, and his surviving twin sister Judith.


Written in exquisitely nuanced, painterly prose, and steeped in research and vivid imagining, it is perhaps no surprise that O’Farrell has won this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado, writing in The Literary Review, describes “Hamnet” as

[An] utterly bewitching book suffused with incandescent beauty and intense emotion, and ghosted by extraordinary dream-images that will haunt your imagination long after you have finished reading it.

Hardback, Headline Publishing, £20

To order a copy, please email books@hatchards.co.uk or telephone 0207 439 9921 – we look forward to hearing from you.

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