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GREEN - Knopf Canada

Hamnet and Judith
A novel
By (author): Maggie O'Farrell
Maggie O'Farrell


Knopf Canada



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Jul 21, 2020
$24.95 CAD


8.24in x 5.67 x 1.02 in | 0.9 lb

Page Count:

384 pages
Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Knopf Canada
FICTION / Historical / Renaissance
British Book Award - Fiction Book of the Year 2021, Winner Dalkey Literary Awards - Novel of the Year 2021, Winner Irish Novel of the Year 2020, Short-listed National Book Critics Circle Awards 2020, Winner Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2021, Short-listed Women's Prize for Fiction 2020, Winner



“[An] exceptional winner…. It expresses something profound about the human experience that seems both extraordinarily current and at the same time, enduring.”

—Martha Lane Fox, Chair of The Women’s Prize for Fiction judges


England, 1580. A young Latin tutor—penniless, bullied by a violent father—falls in love with an eccentric young woman: a wild creature who walks her family’s estate with a falcon on her shoulder and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer. Agnes understands plants and potions better than she does people, but once she settles on the Henley Street in Stratford she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband. His gifts as a writer are just beginning to awaken when their beloved twins, Hamnet and Judith, are afflicted with the bubonic plague, and, devastatingly, one of them succumbs to the illness.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a hypnotic recreation of the story that inspired one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time, Hamnet & Judith is mesmerizing and seductive, an impossible-to-put-down novel from one of our most gifted writers.

Published as Hamnet in the US and the UK.

Story Locale: Stratford-upon-Avon

EXTRAORDINARY ACCLAIM: “Over and over, she tries to work out who people really are, how ordinary lives can conceal extraordinary stories.”—The New York Times Book Review; “Few contemporary writers equal Maggie O’Farrell’s gift for combining intricate, engrossing plots with full-bodied characterizations…. Tantalizing…Propulsive…Heartbreaking.”—The Washington Post; “Beneath the shouting, O’Farrell can convey the slightest wrinkle in the atmosphere.”—The New Yorker

HISTORICAL FICTION: This is historical fiction of the very first order and gives us an opportunity to tap into a robust new market for Maggie O’Farrell for the first time.

MUST-READ NOVEL OF THE SUMMER: We have an early June on-sale (a month before Knopf US) to make Hamnet & Judith the must-read novel of the season. Headline’s publication will precede ours by two months and we will have the benefit of their sensational review coverage—Maggie’s books shoot straight to the top of the UK bestseller lists.

AUTHOR: Though wildly undiscovered in North America, Maggie O’Farrell is one of the most gifted contemporary novelists at work today, and she consistently delivers superb, plot-driven literary novels with flawless commercial pacing. Hamnet & Judith is her best work yet.


Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, MAGGIE O’FARRELL grew up in Wales and Scotland and now lives in Edinburgh. Her debut novel, After You’d Gone (2000), won a Betty Trask Award and was followed by My Lover’s Lover (2002); The Distance Between Us (2004), winner of a Somerset Maugham Award; The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (2006); Costa Book Award winner The Hand That First Held Mine (2010); Instructions for a Heatwave (2013); This Must Be the Place (2016); and most recently, the memoir I Am, I Am, I Am (2018).

Author Residence: Edinburgh

Author Hometown: Ireland

Marketing: Extensive ARC mailing ft cover + letter from editor

Organic and paid social media campaign

Premium Goodreads advertising, including newsletter + giveaway

Amazon+ content

Publicity: Targeted review coverage in Globe & Mail, Toronto Star historical fiction roundup

Remote radio coverage (CBC Next Chapter)

Blogger/influencer mailings

Author Website: maggieofarrell.com

Author Social Media: facebook.com/MaggieOFarrellBooks

A New York Times Top Ten Book of 2020


"[An] exceptional winner. . . . It expresses something profound about the human experience that seems both extraordinarily current and at the same time, enduring.” —Martha Lane Fox, Chair of The Women's Prize for Fiction judges

"Hamnet & Judith is an exploration of marriage and grief written into the silent opacities of a life that is at once extremely famous and profoundly obscure . . . In Hamnet & Judith, Shakespeare's marriage is complicated and troubled, yet brimming with love and passion . . . This novel is at once about the transfiguration of life into art—it is O'Farrell's extended speculation on how Hamnet's death might have fueled the creation of one of his father's greatest plays—and at the same time, it is a master class in how she, herself does it . . . O'Farrell has a melodic relationship to language. There is a poetic cadence to her writing and a lushness in her descriptions of the natural world . . . We can smell the tang of the various new leathers in the glover's workshop, the fragrance of the apples racked a finger-width apart in the winter storage shed, and we can see how the pale London sun "reaches down, like ladders, through the narrow gaps in buildings to illuminate the rain glazed street.". . . As the book unfolds, it brings its story to a tender and ultimately hopeful conclusion: that even the greatest grief, the most damaged marriage, and most shattered heart might find some solace, some healing." —Geraldine Brooks, The New York Times Book Review

"All too timely . . . inspired . . . [An] exceptional historical novel." —The New Yorker

"Magnificent and searing . . . A family saga so bursting with life, touched by magic, and anchored in affection that I only wish it were true. Of all the stories that argue and speculate about Shakespeare’s life, about whether he even wrote his own plays, here is a novel that matches him with a woman overwhelmingly more than worthy . . . I nearly drowned at the end of this book, and at some other spots besides. It would be wise to keep some tissues handy. Hamnet & Judith is so gorgeously written that it transports you from our own plague time right into another and makes you glad to be there." —The Boston Globe

"A thing of shimmering wonder." —David Mitchell

"Hamnet & Judith is a beautiful read, a devastating one, intricate, and breathtakingly imaginative. It will stay with me a long time." —Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

"What could be more common, over centuries and continents, than the death of a child—and yet Maggie O'Farrell, with her flawless sentences and furious heart, somehow makes it new. This story of remarkable people bereft of their boy will leave you shaking with loss but also the love from which family is spun." —Emma Donoghue, author of Room

"Love, grief, hope, resilience—the world of this novel is so vivid I could nearly smell the grass in the fields, hear the rain in the gutters. In moments where the story shoots up to heaven I was there, too, grieving with these characters, feeling how lucky weall are to be alive, understanding how desperately we want the people we love to be remembered. It’s without a doubt one of the best novels I’ve ever read." —Mary Beth Keane, author of Ask Again, Yes

"Stunning. The writing is exquisite, immersive and compelling . . . deserves to win prizes." —Marian Keyes

"One of the most eagerly awaited books of the spring. . . . [Hamnet & Judith] takes an unconventional approach to literary history and has already been hailed as a critical hit." —The Guardian

"Miraculous. . . . [A] beautiful imagination of the short life of Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, and the untold story of his wife, 'Agnes' Hathaway, which builds into a profound exploration of the healing power of creativity." —The Observer

"The story of Hamnet Shakespeare has been waiting in the shadows for over four hundred years. Maggie O’Farrell brings it dazzlingly, devastatingly, into the light." —Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire

"Blisteringly brilliant. . . . You’ll lap up this intricately told story of grief, love and the bond between twins." —Cosmopolitan UK

"Heartstopping. Hamnet & Judith does for the Shakespeare story what Jean Rhys did for Jane Eyre, inhabiting, enlarging and enriching it in ways that will alter the reader’s view for ever." —Patrick Gale, author of Take Nothing With You

"Grief and loss so finely written I could hardly bear to read it." —Sarah Moss, author of Ghost Wall

"Hamnet & Judith knits the loose threads of Shakespeare's shadowy family life into a shimmering tapestry. Rooted in history but lightly drawn, this dreamlike novel builds to a haunting finish. Gorgeous, penetrating, and memorable." —Alix Hawley, author of My Name Is a Knife

"Hamnet & Judith is breathtaking—as rich in historical detail as it is emotionally resonant. This is O'Farrell at her best." —Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal

"Luminous and sensual, Hamnet & Judith draws open a curtain on a new vision of Shakespeare’s children and mysterious marriage. O’Farrell’s creation of Anne (Agnes) Hathaway as a strong, dark, visioning person carries such poignancy, beauty and surprise—yet seems the perfect answer to what Shakespeare’s wife might have been like. In fact, Maggie O’Farrell has imagined a Shakespearean heroine, unschooled yet intuitively gifted, flesh to his brilliant mind. A fascinating exploration into the domestic roots of one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies." —Shaena Lambert, author of Petra and Oh, My Darling

"A bold undertaking, beautifully imagined and written." —Claire Tomalin, author of Charles Dickens: A Life

"I don’t know how anyone could fail to love this book. It is a marvel: a great work of imaginative recreation and a great story. It is also a moral achievement to have transformed that young child from being a literary footnote into someone so tenderly alive that part of you wishes he had survived and Hamlet never been written." —Dominic Dromgoole, author of Hamlet Globe to Globe

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