“Every life has its kernel, its hub, its epicentre, from which everything flows out, to which everything returns.”
Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet
The winner of the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and named a New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet is a luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of the impact of grief, and a tender re-imagining of a forgotten boy whose name lives on.
In 1580’s England, during the Black Plague, a young Latin tutor falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman. Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known for her unusual healing gifts and her understanding of plants and potions. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.
Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, Maggie O’Farrell grew up in Wales and Scotland and now lives in Edinburgh. She is the author of The Hand That First Held Mine (winner of the Costa Novel Award), Instructions for a Heatwave, This Must Be the Place, and most recently her memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death. Hamnet was also the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
The New York Times, July 17, 2020
Such Stuff: The Shakespeare’s Globe Podcast, May 5, 2020
The Guardian, March 22, 2020
“Of all the stories that argue and speculate about Shakespeare’s life… here is a novel … so gorgeously written that it transports you.”