Much Ado About Numbers: Shakespeare's Mathematical Life and Times (Hardcover)

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Devotees of the bard will relish this fresh take on his work—where math and numbers illuminate Shakespeare’s use of science, games, money, magic, astronomy, and more

Books on Shakespeare are plentiful, but until now there has never been a book written for a general audience about math and science in Shakespeare’s time and how they influenced his works.

Shakespeare grew up in a time of remarkable mathematical innovation. From astronomy to probability, music to multiplication, new mathematical ideas were taking off—and much of this was reflected in his work. In this highly engaging book, award-winning author Rob Eastaway explores the surprising and entertaining ways that mathematics and numbers crop up in Shakespeare’s plays.

We discover how Tudors multiplied, why Shakespeare never ended a line with the word orange, and why King Lear was every inch a king, and why early drafts of the plays could possibly have been written with a pencil. Shakespeare’s world was one in which one might expect to travel no more than a league in an hour, and fathoms and furlongs were as much a part of the language as feet and yards. It was hard to conceive of anything shorter than a minute and the rainbow probably had just five colors.

With historical asides about games, optics, astronomy, and music thrown in, you might never think about math or Shakespeare the same way again.

About the Author

Rob Eastaway is the puzzle advisor for New Scientist's puzzle column and the director of Maths Inspiration, an interactive lecture program that has reached over 100,000 British teenagers. He has written or coauthored more than a dozen books, including Maths on the Back of an Envelope, Why Do Buses Come in Threes? and Old Dogs, New Math. He lives in London.

Praise For…

You can count on both Rob Eastaway and Shakespeare to make mathematics entertaining, never more so than in this elegant tome which will make your Pericles tingle as you like it.
— Sir Tim Rice

A spectacular journey . . . Highly recommended!
— Dr. Simon Smith, The Shakespeare Institute

A fascinating and hugely entertaining guide to Shakespearean mathematics.
— Professor Sarah Hart, author of Once Upon A Prime

A playful and engaging book . . . bound to excite the appetite of all Shakespeare junkies.
— Patrick Spottiswoode, Founder, Shakespeare’s Globe Education

Instead of cleaving math and English in twain, Eastaway brings them together to surprise and delight the reader.
— Dr. Rebecca Fisher, The English Association
Product Details
ISBN: 9798893030303
Publisher: The Experiment
Publication Date: September 10th, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English