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By Graham Holderness

Who was once Shakespeare and the way did he reside? Combining truth, culture and mind's eye, Shakespeare's many lives are instructed in nine attainable methods

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He wrote, Wells states, with a quill pen dipped in ink. The restrictions imposed by this writing technology kept him desk-bound. 12 Where would that desk have been? Certainly, Wells speculates, after Shakespeare had purchased New Place in Stratford, it would have been there: Can we really imagine that … a writer who owned a splendid house in a small and relatively peaceful town in Warwickshire would not make every possible effort to spend time there? … Shakespeare was, I suspect, our first great Shakespeare the Writer 31 literary commuter.

Better, in fact, since there are more of him: my Shakespeares. Nine lives for the price of one. And we begin with Shakespeare the writer. In the beginning is the word. LIFE ONE Shakespeare the Writer Shakespeare is celebrated as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of writers – ‘above all other writers,’ as Samuel Johnson described him. ’ Everywhere in modern culture, writing is a collective and mechanised activity; a compilation of material from multiple sources, electronically processed and stored so that everyone’s ‘writing’ looks much the same as everyone else’s.

Those by Peter Ackroyd and Bill Bryson) often prominently feature a quill on the cover illustration. Thus the instrument that signs becomes itself the visual ‘signature’ standing in for the writer. Le style, c’est l’homme. This is writing as a physical and intellectual process, involving the whole man, a holistic relationship between mind, body and writing technology. ’1 In such images of the writer at work, the figure is usually seen as isolated, remote from any contact with other people or with material objects.

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