Maggie O’Farrell’s triumphant return to fiction, Hamnet – longlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction

Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, Hamnet is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.

‘A breathtakingly moving study of grief … O’Farrell is simply outstanding. Within pages, she can inhabit the mind of an owl, of a great playwright, of a dying boy, of those watching him. It seems she can pretty much do anything on the page that she puts her mind to.

‘Immersive, at times shockingly intimate, and triumphantly brought to fruition, this is a work that ought to win prizes.’ – Joanna Briscoe, Guardian

About the book

Two extraordinary people. A love that draws them together. A loss that threatens to tear them apart.

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; 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.

About the author

Maggie O’Farrell is the author of the bestselling memoir I Am, I Am, I Am, and eight novels: After You’d Gone, My Lover’s Lover, The Distance Between Us, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, The Hand That First Held Mine, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, Instructions for a Heatwave, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award, This Must Be The Place, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award, and Hamnet. She lives in Edinburgh.

Critical Acclaim for Hamnet

‘Incredible… Transformative for the genre.’ – Damian Barr

‘It’s stunning. Historical fiction, the writing is exquisite, immersive and compelling. [O’Farrell’s] best book yet.’ – Marian Keyes

‘A bold undertaking, beautifully imagined and written.’ – Claire Tomalin

‘Fearlessly inventive … Such a haunting, sad and sensuous novel.’ – Patrick Gale

‘A masterpiece … You will be blown away by this novel.’ – Hannah Beckerman 

‘Dazzling. Devastating.’ – Kamila Shamsie

Categories Fiction International

Tags Hamnet Jonathan Ball Publishers Maggie O'Farrell New books New releases

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