Authors to reimagine Shakespeare plays for 21st Century

Jeanette Winterson, Shakespeare and Anne Tyler (Photo credit: Peter Peitsch, Getty and Diane Walker) Jeanette Winterson (left) and Anne Tyler (right) are the first commissions for the Shakespeare series (Photo credit: Peter Peitsch, Getty and Diane Walker)

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Novelist Jeanette Winterson is to write a "cover version" of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale as part of a major project to reimagine the Bard's works for modern readers.

The project - known as The Hogarth Shakespeare - will launch in 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Anne Tyler are the first authors to be commissioned.

"All of us have talismanic texts that we have carried around and that carry us around," Winterson said.

Start Quote

I love cover versions.”

End Quote Jeanette Winterson

"I have worked with The Winter's Tale in many disguises for many years. This is a brilliant opportunity to work with it in its own right. And I love cover versions."

Last year saw the publication of Winterson's The Daylight Gate, a novella retelling the 17th-Century Pendle Witches case as part of the new Hammer Horror fiction series.

Tyler, who has selected Shakespeare's comedy The Taming of the Shrew, said: "I don't know which I'm looking forward to more: delving into the mysteries of shrewish Kate or finding out what all the other writers do with their Shakespeare characters."

According to Hogarth, Random House's transatlantic fiction imprint, the new versions of Shakespeare "will be true to the spirit of the original dramas and their popular appeal, while giving authors an exciting opportunity to reinvent these seminal works of English literature".

The novels will be published simultaneously across the English-speaking world in print, digital and audio formats.

Discussions with other authors are taking place with further announcements "expected soon".

Winterson and Tyler's forthcoming works are the latest in a long line of Shakespearean reinterpretations.

Among the best-known examples are the musical West Side Story, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, and 1950s science-fiction film Forbidden Planet, which shares many elements of The Tempest.

"The opportunity to ask our best living writers to reinterpret Shakespeare's many worlds has proved irresistible" said Clara Farmer, publishing director of Hogarth and Chatto & Windus.

"The time is ripe for a dedicated series of stand-alone retellings that will form a covetable library and a celebration of Shakespeare for years to come."

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