The Hogarth Shakespeare

Two bestselling authors have been commissioned to write prose ‘retellings’ of Shakespeare’s plays

On the eve of the 2013 Man Booker Prize shortlist announcement Hogarth, Penguin Random House’s transatlantic fiction imprint, today announces that Margaret Atwood and Howard Jacobson – two previous Booker winners – are the latest bestselling authors commissioned to write prose ‘retellings’ of Shakespeare’s plays. These celebrated novelists join two other global bestselling authors – Anne Tyler and Jeanette Winterson – in reinterpreting Shakespeare for the twenty-first-century reader.

The Hogarth Shakespeare will launch in 2016, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and is a major international publishing initiative across the Penguin Random House Group. Canada’s most eminent novelist, poet and critic Margaret Atwood has selected The Tempest – the play of magic and illusion thought to be one of Shakespeare’s last. Atwood comments: ‘The Tempest has always been a favourite of mine, and working on it will be an invigorating challenge. Is Caliban the first talking monster? Not quite, but close…’

Award-winning novelist and critic Howard Jacobson, best known for his prizewinning tragi-comic novels, has chosen one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays – The Merchant of Venice. Jacobson comments: ‘For an English novelist Shakespeare is where it all begins. For an English novelist who also happens to be Jewish The Merchant of Venice is where it all snarls up. “Who is the merchant and who is the Jew?” Portia wanted to know. Four hundred years later, the question needs to be reframed: “Who is the hero of this play and who is the villain?” And if Shylock is the villain, why did Shakespeare choose to make him so?

‘Only a fool would think he has anything to add to Shakespeare. But Shakespeare probably never met a Jew, the Holocaust had not yet happened, and anti-Semitism didn’t have a name. Can one tell the same story today, when every reference carries a different charge? There’s the challenge. I quake before it.’ These two additions to the series will sit alongside Anne Tyler’s take on The Taming of the Shrew and Jeanette Winterson on The Winter’s Tale.

Becky Hardie, Deputy Publishing Director and Clara Farmer, Publishing Director, Chatto & Windus/Hogarth, acquired world rights in all languages for Margaret Atwood’s retelling from Vivienne Schuster at Curtis Brown. Clara Farmer acquired world rights in all languages for Howard Jacobson’s retelling from Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown.

About Hogarth

In 1917 Virginia and Leonard Woolf started The Hogarth Press from their Richmond home, Hogarth House, armed only with a hand-press and a determination to publish the newest, most inspiring writing. It went on to publish some of the twentieth century’s most significant writers, joining forces with Chatto & Windus in 1946. Inspired by their example, Hogarth was launched in 2012 as a home for a new generation of literary talent; an adventurous fiction imprint with an accent on the pleasures of storytelling and a keen awareness of the world. Hogarth is a partnership between Chatto & Windus in the UK and Crown in the US, and its novels are published from London and New York.

Hogarth has enjoyed notable international success with Shani Boianjiu’s debut novel, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in the UK, and the New York Times bestseller A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, winner of the 2012 Whiting Award. In the US, Hogarth has also had significant success with the New York Times bestseller The Dinner by Herman Koch.

About The Hogarth Shakespeare

The Hogarth Shakespeare programme will launch in 2016, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. This international publishing initiative is led by Hogarth UK and published in partnership with Hogarth US, Knopf Canada, Knaus Verlag in Germany and Mondadori in Spain; and Random House Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. The novels will be published simultaneously across the English-speaking world in print, digital and audio formats.

The concept of The Hogarth Shakespeare was devised by Juliet Brooke, Senior Editor at Chatto & Windus/Hogarth, Becky Hardie, Deputy Publishing Director and Clara Farmer, Publishing Director. The US publishing team are Molly Stern, Senior Vice President, Publisher, Crown, Hogarth, and Broadway Books; and Alexis Washam, Senior Editor, Hogarth. The series will be published in Canada by Louise Dennys, Executive Publisher, Knopf Random Canada Publishing Group and Executive Vice President, Random House of Canada Limited.