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  • In Hamnet, Maggie O'Farrell doesn't ever call Agnes' husband Will or Shakespeare. Why do you think she chooses not to name him?


  • Agnes is presented as quite a strange woman who paid little attention to convention and respectability. She cured lots of people's illnesses with herbs and tinctures. How did this conform with or differ to your own perception of Anne Hathaway? 


  • I think that the narrative voice in Hamnet is quite unusual in that it is quite didactic, but also has a floaty, not quite of this world feel. How would you describe the narrative? What do you think O'Farrell was trying to convey through it?


  • Look around your book club members. Who is most like Agnes and why? 


  • It is unknown whether Joan was Agnes' mother or step-mother. How would the story have been different if she was actually Agnes' mother?


  • In Maggie' O'Farrell's story Hamnet were Agnes and her husband in love? Discuss.


  • The last line of Maggie' O'Farrell's novel is 'Remember Me'. This is said by  Shakespeare who is acting the role of  ghost from the play 'Hamlet'.  In Hamlet (the play) this line  is often interpreted as the ghost of dead king Hamlet (who has been murdered by his brother) asking that young Hamlet seeks revenge. Why does Maggie O'Farrell conclude her story with this line? 


  • What Is Agnes' interpretation of her husband's rationale behind playing the part of old King Hamlet's ghost? Were you convinced by Agnes' reading of events? If not how did this affect your enjoyment of the story?


  • Maggie O'Farrell visited Stratford and the tourist spots linked to Shakespeare in order to be able to write authentically about Tudor England. How successfully does she bring Shakespeare's England to life? Give examples of what is effective? 


  • "Dazzling, Devastating", "Flawless and furious". "Heartstopping, Hamnet does for the Shakespeare story what Jean Rhys does for Jane Eyre" are all quotations used n lieu of a blurb on the back of the book. What quotation would you add to these? Feel free to joke around. I think Shakespeare would approve and Maggie O'Farrell probably would too! 


  • ​In Maggie O'Farrell's retelling of Hamnet's story, Shakespeare's family seem to have little interest in or understanding of his writing? Discuss the significance of this? 


  • Whilst we can't ever know for sure what Shakespeare was like, how true is Maggie O'Farrell's characterization of Shakespeare, in comparison to the image you have built up of him in  your own mind? 

  • Explore the difficulties of writing a book with Hamnet as the main character rather than Shakespeare himself.


      * Some questions courtesy of Sally Flint

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