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Wellington City Libraries

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Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Tag: biographies

Happy Death Day, William Shakespeare!

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. Well, that was certainly the case during William Shakespeare’s life. This year marks Shakespeare’s, or the Bard of Avon, (assumed) 457th birthday on the 26th of April and 405th death anniversary on the 23rd April.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

And pray tell, who was William Shakespeare?

Well, he was an English poet, playwright and actor who is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. People all over the world have come to recognise the image of William Shakespeare and would heard of his plays, but what do we know about the man himself, or even what went on behind the scenes during the performance of his plays, or even who his plays were being performed for?

How dost thou celebrate?

In addition to the traditional birthday party, cake and presents, why not read all about his life, from his early and humble beginnings in Stratford upon Avon, England to conquering the stage in Queen Elizabeth’s court and the Globe Theatre.

image courtesy of syndetics30-second Shakespeare : 50 key aspects of his works, life and legacy, each explained in half a minute.

’30-second Shakespeare’ features 50 of the key moments, works and lasting influences of the Bard, all explained clearly and without the clutter. Each entry is summarized in just 3 seconds – using nothing more than two pages, 300 words and one picture. Leading Shakespeare scholars present an expert guide to his life and works.

image courtesy of syndeticsWill in the world : how Shakespeare became Shakespeare.

Read all about the real-world sources of Shakespeare’s language – of his fantasies, passions, fears, and desires – lie outside the scope of these earlier books. Will in the World will set out to recover the links between Shakespeare and his world and with them to construct a full and vital portrait of the man.


image courtesy of syndeticsShakespeare : the world as stage.

Bill Bryson explores the life and work of Shakespeare as a travelogue of sorts, narrating his quest for the Bard: his conversations with Shakespearean actors, with the curator of Shakespeare’s birthplace, with academics who have dedicated their lives to studying the plays and poems, and of course, reporting on his own exploits in Stratford-upon-Avon.

image courtesy of syndeticsA year in the life of William Shakespeare.

In 1599, an epochal year for Shakespeare and England, Shakespeare wrote four of his most famous plays while Elizabethans sent off an army to crush an Irish rebellion, weathered an Armada threat from Spain, and gambled on a fledgling East India Company. Shapiro brings together the news and the intrigue of the times in this gripping account of an inspiring moment in history.

Also search our catalogue for more biographies about Shakespeare and his remarkable life.


Read Shakespeare’s plays… and novels based on Shakespeare’s plays!

image courtesy of syndeticsThe plays of Shakespeare : a thematic guide.

Read and relive your favourite Shakespeare plays. Wellington City Libraries holds a huge array of plays and teen novels adapted from Shakespeare’s plays. Identifies the core topics of Shakespeare’s plays and allows students to compare and contrast the thematic connections that recur throughout the canon.

image courtesy of syndeticsThe complete works by William Shakespeare.

A compact edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare. It combines impeccable scholarship with beautifully written editorial material and a user-friendly layout of the text. Also included is a foreword, list of contents, general introduction, essay on language, contemporary allusions to Shakespeare, glossary, consolidated bibliography and index of first lines of Sonnets.

Plays from the Royal Shakespeare Company

This Shakespeare series has titles such as Much ado about Nothing, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to excite Shakespearian fans of all ages. This exciting series, produced in partnership with the RSC, is designed to introduce students to Shakespeare’s plays. Using trusted and established RSC approaches and vibrant RSC performance photographs, the series brings Shakespeare’s plays to life in the classroom and establishes a deeper understanding and lasting appreciation of his work.
image courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndetics

Plays from the Cambridge School Shakespeare

image courtesy of syndeticsHamlet.

A new edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in accordance with the work of the Shakespeare and Schools Project and the national curriculum for English.

image courtesy of syndeticsRomeo and Juliet.

A new edition of Romeo and Juliet in the Cambridge School Shakepeare series.

image courtesy of syndeticsOthello.

A prose retelling of Shakespeare’s play in which a jealous general is duped into thinking that his wife has been unfaithful, with tragic consequences.

Novels adapted from Shakespeare’s Plays

image courtesy of syndeticsThe diary of William Shakespeare, gentleman.

Part comedy, part love story, this book threads together Shakespeare’s life drawn from his plays. Could the world’s greatest writer truly put down his pen forever to become a gentleman? Based on new documentary evidence, as well as textual examination of his plays, this fascinating book gives a tantalising glimpse at what might have been: the other hands that helped craft those plays, the secrets that must ever be hidden but – just possibly – may now be told.

image courtesy of syndeticsHamlet.

This wonderful book, by one of Australia’s most loved and most read writers, takes Shakespeare’s famous play and makes it into a moving and full-blooded novel. John Marsden follows the contours of the original but powerfully re-imagines its characters and story lines, rather as Shakespeare treated his sources. We are aware not only of the strength of Marsden’s own writing but the sensitivity of his insight into Shakespeare. Hamlet, A Novel will be adored by adults whether young or old.

image courtesy of syndeticsThird Witch.

A searing story of passion, betrayal, battles and love, this is Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ stripped of superstition, and its power and beauty refined into fewer words where good balances the evil and there is a happy ending – for some. Following on from OPHELIA, QUEEN OF DENMARK and I AM JULIET, this is the third title in the series for young people that focuses on the reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s classic and enduring plays.

image courtesy of syndeticsThese Violent Delights.

A retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1926 Shanghai, China. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, heir of the Scarlet Gang, and her first love-turned-rival Roma Montagov, leader of the White Flowers, must work together when mysterious deaths threaten their city.– Provided by Publisher.

OMG Shakespeare!

image courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndetics


Also search our catalogue for more plays.


Ace your exams and homework!

Read the CliffsNotes on Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets that will help ease your homework headaches and help you score high on exams. Check out the following CliffNotes which includes As You Like it, Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet:

image courtesy of syndetics

image courtesy of syndetics

image courtesy of syndetics


You can search our catalogue for more CliffNotes. Also, check out more Shakespeare on the CliffNotes website.


Watch movies inspired by Shakespeare’s plays:

A midsummer night’s dream.

image courtesy of amazon.com

When two pairs of star-crossed lovers, a feuding pair of supernatural sprites and a love potion gone awry all come together in an enchanted moonlit forest, the result is a delightful mix of merriment and magic. Shakespeare’s romantic comedy is brought to life.

Hamlet.

image courtesy of amazon.com

In this first-ever full-text film of William Shakespeare’s work, the Prince of Denmark, Hamlet, returns home to find his father murdered and his mother remarrying the murderer. Meanwhile, war is brewing.

Love Labour’s Lost.

image courtesy of amazon.com

The King of Navarre (Alessandro Nivola) and his friends think that they cannot love again. When the Princess of France (Alicia Silverstone) and her attendants arrive for a visit, their plans are completely turned upside down in this 1930s-musical-style version of Shakespeare’s comedy featuring Berlin, Gershwin, Kern, and Porter song numbers.

Double dose of Much ado about Nothing (1993) and Much ado about Nothing (2013).

image courtesy of amazon.comimage courtesy of amazon.com

Two different retellings of  Shakespeare’s classic comedy about the story of sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick offers a sensual, tragic and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love.

image courtesy of amazon.com image courtesy of amazon.com

Double dose of Romeo and Juliet (1968) and Romeo and Juliet (1996) .

Two different retellings of Shakespeare’s classic of star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. The 1996 version staring a very young and impressionable Leonardo Dicaprio is a modern adaptation of the classic love story, moved to the futuristic urban backdrop of Verona Beach.

Also search our catalogue for more DVDs adapted from Shakespeare’s plays. 


Where to find more information?

International Women’s Month: #ChooseToChallenge

Well it’s March again, already and that means it’s International Women’s Month, with International Women’s Day specifically celebrated on March 8th.  This year the official theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge.  Challenge comes in many forms – you can challenge the status quo, challenge yourself, challenge others and of course, challenge gender bias and inequality.  So I’ve put together a list of biographies about women who have chosen to challenge in many forms.

Bad girls & wicked women : the most powerful, shocking, amazing, thrilling and dangerous women of all time / Stradling, Jan

“An historic survey of 22 of the most ruthless and ambitious women in history.” (Catalogue)

Yassmin’s story : who do you think I am? / Abdel-Magied, Yassmin

“At 21, Yassmin found herself working on a remote Australian oil and gas rig; she was the only woman and certainly the only Sudanese-Egyptian-Australian-with-some-Turkish-and-Moroccan-background Muslim woman. With her hijab quickly christened a “tea cosy” there could not be a more unlikely place on earth for a young Muslim woman to want to be. This is the story of how she got there, where she is going, and how she wants the world to change. Born in the Sudan, Yassmin and her parents moved to Brisbane when she was two, and she has been tackling barriers ever since. At 16 she founded Youth Without Borders, an organization focused on helping young people to work for positive change in their communities. In 2007 she was named Young Australian Muslim of the Year and in 2010 Young Queenslander of the Year. In 2011 Yassmin graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (First Class Honours), and in 2012 she was named Young Leader of the Year in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s inaugural 100 Women of Influence Awards as well as an InStyle cultural leader and a Marie Claire woman of the future.” (Catalogue)

Fattily ever after / Yeboah, Stephanie

“Twenty-nine year-old plus-size blogger Stephanie Yeboah has experienced racism and fat-phobia throughout her life. From being bullied at school to being objectified and humiliated in her dating life, Stephanie’s response to discrimination has always been to change the narrative around body-image and what we see as beautiful. In her debut book, Fattily Ever After, Stephanie Yeboah speaks openly and courageously about her own experience on navigating life as a black, plus-sized woman – telling it how it really is – and how she has managed to find self-acceptance in a world where judgement and discrimination are rife. Featuring stories of every day misogynoir and being fetishized, to navigating the cesspit of online dating and experiencing loneliness, Stephanie shares her thoughts on the treatment of black women throughout history, the marginalisation of black, plus-sized women in the media (even within the body-positivity movement) whilst drawing on wisdom from other black fat liberation champions along the way. Peppered with insightful tips and honest advice and boldly illustrated throughout, this inspiring and powerful book is essential reading for a generation of black, plus-sized women, helping them to live their life openly, unapologetically and with confidence.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

AOC : the fearless rise and powerful resonance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“From the moment Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat a ten-term incumbent in the primary election for New York’s 14th, her journey to the national, if not world, stage, was fast-tracked. Six months later, as the youngest Congresswoman ever elected, AOC became one of a handful of Latina politicians in Washington, D.C. Just thirty, she represents her generation, the millennials, in many groundbreaking ways: proudly working class, Democratic Socialist, of Puerto Rican descent, master of social media, not to mention of the Bronx, feminist–and a great dancer. AOC investigates her symbolic and personal significance for so many, from her willingness to use her imperfect bi-lingualism, to why men are so threatened by her power, to the long history of Puerto Rican activism that she joins. (Adapted from Catalogue)

In her footsteps : where trailblazing women changed the world / Averbuck, Alexis

“Discover the lives and locations of trailblazing women who changed the course of history. From the temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt and Empress Dowager Cixi’s summer palace in Beijing, to the homes and meeting sites of suffragette heroes Sylvia Pankhurst and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the creative workrooms of Frida Kahlo and Virginia Woolf, and the tennis courts where the Williams sisters first learned to play – we showcase female pioneers whose lives and actions continue to inspire today. In Her Footsteps is not only a celebration of incredible women, but a travel guide to the places where they studied, lived, worked, reigned and explored. We’ll tell you where to find the secret feminist history of sites around the world. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fight like a girl : 50 feminists who changed the world / Barcella, Laura

Fight Like a Girl profiles fifty iconic women who have worked to further women’s rights in a wide variety of ways.

Nearly every day there’s another news story or pop cultural anecdote related to feminism and women’s rights. #YesAllWomen, conversations around consent, equal pay, access to contraception, and a host of other issues are foremost topics of conversation in American (and worldwide) media right now. Today’s teens are encountering these issues from a different perspective than any generation has had before, but what’s often missing from the current discussion is an understanding of how we’ve gotten to this place. Fight Like a Girl will familiarize readers with the history of feminist activism, in an effort to celebrate those who paved the way and draw attention to those who are working hard to further the cause of women’s rights. Profiles of both famous and lesser-known feminists will be featured alongside descriptions of how their actions affected the overall feminist cause, and unique portraits (artist’s renderings) of the feminists themselves. This artistic addition will take the book beyond simply an informational text, and make it a treasure of a book.” (Catalogue)

Jacinda Ardern : a new kind of leader / Chapman, Madeleine

“New Zealand’s prime minister has been hailed as a leader for a new generation, tired of inaction in the face of issues such as climate change and far-right terrorism.

Her grace and compassion following the Christchurch mosque shooting captured the world’s attention. Oprah Winfrey invited us to ‘channel our inner Jacindas’ as praise for Ardern flooded headlines and social media. The ruler of this remote country even made the cover of Time.

In this revealing biography, journalist Madeleine Chapman discovers the woman behind the headlines. Always politically engaged and passionate, Ardern is uncompromising and astute. She has encountered her fair share of sexism, but rather than let that harden her, she advocates ‘rising above’ disparagers. In her first press conference, she announced an election campaign of ‘relentless positivity’. The tactic was a resounding success- donations poured in and Labour rebounded in the polls.

But has Ardern lived up to her promise? What political concessions has she had to make? And beyond the hype, what does her new style of leadership look like in practice?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Know your place / Ghahraman, Golriz

“The story of a child refugee who faced her fears, found her home and accidentally made history

When she was just nine, Golriz Ghahraman and her parents were forced to flee their home in Iran. After a terrifying and uncertain journey, they landed in Auckland where they were able to seek asylum and – ultimately – create a new life. In this open and intimate account, Ghahraman talks about making a home in Aotearoa New Zealand, her work as a human rights lawyer, her United Nations missions, and how she became the first refugee to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament. Passionate and unflinching, Know Your Place is a story about breaking barriers, and the daily challenges of prejudice that shape the lives of women and minorities. At its heart, it’s about overcoming fear, about family, and about finding a place to belong. The story of a child refugee who faced her fears, found her home and accidentally made history When she was just nine, Golriz Ghahraman and her parents were forced to flee their home in Iran. After a terrifying and uncertain journey, they landed in Auckland where they were able to seek asylum and – ultimately – create a new life. In this open and intimate account, Ghahraman talks about making a home in Aotearoa New Zealand, her work as a human rights lawyer, her United Nations missions, and how she became the first refugee to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament. Passionate and unflinching, Know Your Place is a story about breaking barriers, and the daily challenges of prejudice that shape the lives of women and minorities. At its heart, it’s about overcoming fear, about family, and about finding a place to belong.” (Catalogue)

Not that I’d kiss a girl : a Kiwi girl’s tale of coming out and coming of age / O’Brien, Lil

“‘Not That I’d Kiss a Girl triumphantly joins the select few New Zealand examples of the autobiographical coming-out genre. Compulsively readable and very much aware of the world, O’Brien’s memoir is suspenseful and engaging.’ David Herkt, New Zealand Herald.

A heartbreaking and hilarious true story of coming out as gay in New Zealand.” (Catalogue)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg : a life / De Hart, Jane Sherron

“The definitive account of an icon who shaped gender equality for all women. In this comprehensive, revelatory biography — fifteen years of interviews and research in the making — historian Jane Sherron De Hart explores the central experiences that crucially shaped Ginsburg’s passion for justice, her advocacy for gender equality, and her meticulous jurisprudence. At the heart of her story and abiding beliefs was her Jewish background, specifically the concept of tikkun olam, the Hebrew injunction to ‘repair the world’, with its profound meaning for a young girl who grew up during the Holocaust and World War II. Ruth’s journey began with her mother, who died tragically young but  whose intellect inspired her daughter’s feminism. It stretches from Ruth’s days as a baton twirler at Brooklyn’s James Madison High School to Cornell University to Harvard and Columbia Law Schools; to becoming one of the first female law professors in the country and having to fight for equal pay and hide her second pregnancy to avoid losing her job; to becoming the director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and arguing momentous anti-sex-discrimination cases before the US Supreme Court. All this, even before being nominated in 1993 to become the second woman on the Court, where her crucial decisions and dissents are still making history. Intimately, personably told, this biography offers unprecedented insight into a pioneering life and legal career whose profound impact will reverberate deep into the twenty-first century and beyond.” (Catalogue)

Sitting pretty : the view from my ordinary resilient disabled body / Taussig, Rebekah

“A memoir-in-essays from disability advocate and creator of the Instagram account @sitting-pretty Rebekah Taussig, processing a lifetime of memories to paint a beautiful, nuanced portrait of a body that looks and moves differently than most. Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the 90s and early 2000s, Rebekah Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), inspirational (Helen Keller), or angelic (Forrest Gump). None of this felt right; and as she got older, she longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling. Writing about the rhythms and textures of what it means to live in a body that doesn’t fit, Rebekah reflects on everything from the complications of kindness and charity, living both independently and dependently, experiencing intimacy, and how the pervasiveness of ableism in our everyday media directly translates to everyday life. Disability affects all of us, directly or indirectly, at one point or another. By exploring this truth in poignant and lyrical essays, Taussig illustrates the need for more stories and more voices to understand the diversity of humanity. Sitting Pretty challenges us as a society to be patient and vigilant, practical and imaginative, kind and relentless, as we set to work to write an entirely different story.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Want to explore more biographies about women?  Click here to begin.