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Searching for Juliet

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529365139

Price: £12.99

ON SALE: 6th April 2023

Genre: Literature & Literary Studies

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‘Witty and scholarly’


‘Illuminating . . . as vital and provocative as the character herself’


‘An astonishing tour-de-force’
MARION TURNER, author of The Wife of Bath: A Biography

Who is Juliet Capulet?

Daughter of Verona
Lovestruck Teenager
Romantic Icon
Tragic Heroine

Searching for Juliet takes us from the Renaissance origin stories behind Shakespeare’s child bride to enslaved people in the Caribbean, Italian fascists in Verona, and real-life lovers in Afghanistan. From the Victorian stage to 1960s cinema, Baz Luhrmann, and beyond. Drawing on rich cultural and historical sources and new research, Sophie Duncan shows us why Juliet is for now, for ever, for everyone.

What's Inside

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In Verona, an office answers letters posted to Juliet from all over the world. At college, Romeo and Juliet is the top Shakespeare pick by students for their studies. Tracing Juliet's afterlife through many an enthralling by-way, Sophie Duncan begins this original, stylish and compelling narrative with the enthralling and sometimes poignant story of the boy actors and young women who first took on the role of Shakespeare's first eponymous - and wonderfully spirited - heroine. It's a marvellous book, and one that delivers a powerfully inspiring message to the young Juliets of our own troubled times
Miranda Seymour, author of I Used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys
Breathtaking in its range, this is far more than a deep dive into an ocean of Juliets (although it is, gloriously, that): it is a powerful, witty, and provocative exploration of sex and gender, youth and age, love and death
Dr Anna Beer, author of Eve Bites Back: An Alternative History of English Literature
Sophie Duncan's wonderful new book tells the story of the most famous love story of Western literature as you've never seen it before. This story is an astonishing tour-de-force . . . Duncan does not shy away from the dark side of this story but her absolute passion for the subject shines through on every page. Juliet has found the biographer she deserves
Marion Turner, author of The Wife of Bath: A Biography
Bursting with energy, wit, and page-turning satisfaction, Sophie Duncan's book unpacks the rich, and sometimes uncomfortable cultural history of Shakespeare's Juliet
Gilli Bush-Bailey, author of Treading the Bawds: Actresses and Playwrights on the Late Stuart Stage
Sophie Duncan uses her expertise in theatre history to give us both a biography of Shakespeare's Juliet and a capacious cultural study of people and politics. Duncan takes us from Shakespeare's stage through plantation slaves to Mussolini's Italy. She writes with wit and acumen, so that the story of Juliet across the centuries is imbued with personality and compassion. This is an extraordinary achievement
Laurie Maguire, author of The Rhetoric of the Page
I love the combination of authority, research, anger, and dry wit. Sophie Duncan shows us that Juliet has created templates for young women that are both enabling and stifling - and traces that paradox unflinchingly across slave plantations, teenage mental health, and the erotics of the beautiful dead girl. Searching for Juliet offers the play and its reception a fresh kind of attention: a sort of tough love which avoids sentimentality without becoming cynical. Really eye-opening
Emma Smith, author of This Is Shakespeare
Shakespeare's Juliet represents far more than passionate but doomed teenage love, and in her brilliant new book Sophie Duncan shows us why. Deeply researched and wryly written, Searching for Juliet makes us think again about a character and a story we thought we knew
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, author of The Turning Point
Roving, animated . . . Duncan approaches her subject from all angles, turning Juliet like a gem in the light . . . [and] remains passionately alive to her subject, driven by a genuine affection for a teenager who has survived many attempts at clumsy marketing
Sophie Elmhirst, Sunday Times
Invigorating . . . Duncan is an engaging guide to Juliet's complex afterlives . . . This book is crammed with interesting nuggets . . . What makes Searching for Juliet so thrilling is the way Duncan weaves all these threads into a compelling history of a singular heroine
Samantha Ellis, Guardian
Witty and illuminating . . . Duncan is a genial guide and an excellent storyteller with an obvious devotion to her subject . . . Duncan's verve and curiosity, combined with her intimate knowledge of Shakespeare's play, carry the reader along. She has written a history of Juliet that is as vital and provocative as the character herself
Kirsten Tambling, Literary Review
Witty and scholarly
Jonathan Bate, Sunday Telegraph
A buoyant account of Juliet's varied presence on stage and screen but also in real-life contexts as unlikely as Afghan warzones and Jamaican plantations . . . "We each see our own Juliet", Duncan maintains, and her book is richly informed by the ideological, commercial, political and personal motivations behind the many viewpoints she uncovers
Margreta de Grazia, Times Literary Supplement
Deft, compelling and thoroughly researched