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Book of the Week

1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear

Episode 1: The Theatre

Duration: 15 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 FMLatest broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 LW

In 1606, Shakespeare was writing for a royal family hungry for new entertainment while the threats of plague, insurrection and rebellion threatened English society. Show more

Book of the Week

1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear

Episode 2: The Gunpowder Plot

Duration: 15 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 FMLatest broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 LW

The impact of the Gunpowder Plot of late 1605 has implications not only for the monarchy and aristocracy but also for the work of contemporary playwrights, including Shakespeare. Show more

Book of the Week

1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear

Episode 3: Plague

Duration: 15 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 FMLatest broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 LW

An outbreak of the plague threatens the livelihood of William Shakespeare when the theatres are closed. It also looms close to his home in London. Show more

Book of the Week

1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear

Episode 4: Religion

Duration: 15 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 FMLatest broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 LW

The ferment in the country and King James's insistence on an oath of allegiance brings religious tensions to the fore in 1606. Show more

Book of the Week

1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear

Episode 5: Union

Duration: 15 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 FMLatest broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 LW

King James's quest for the union of England and Scotland is not easily resolved. Show more