Although many commentators have been intrigued by the possible effects of the death of Shakespeare’s only son, Hamnet, on the writer, Shakespeare and Son: A Journey in Writing and Grieving is the first full-length study examining the evidence that Shakespeare’s later work was deeply involved with this loss. The book is also the first full-length study to explore Shakespeare’s works in light of the psychology of grief, combining psychological insights with literary analysis.
Specifically, the book explores 20 plays from all parts of Shakespeare’s career, concentrating on works known to definitely have been written after Hamnet’s death, especially Much ado About Nothing, Henry the Fourth Part 2, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, King Lear, Pericles, The Winter’s Tale, Cymbeline, and The Tempest. Examining various manifestations of grief in the plays, such as anger, depression, guilt, and hope, author Keverne Smith argues that the evidence of Shakespeare’s grief is cumulative and evident in repeated structures and patterns in plays written over a period of 14 to 15 years.
- Discussion of 20 of Shakespeare's works, concentrating on 16 works completed after his son Hamnet's death in 1596
- Chronological organization so readers can follow the development of Shakespeare's response to the death of Hamnet as reflected in the plays and poetry written following this tragedy
- A cross-disciplinary bibliography, drawing especially on literary, theatrical, historical, thanatological, and psychological commentaries