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Science History

The Science of Shakespeare

A New Look at the Playwright's Universe

by (author) Dan Falk

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Jun 2019
History, 16th Century, Philosophy & Social Aspects, Cosmology, Shakespeare, Astronomy
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2019
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2014
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


William Shakespeare lived at a remarkable time. New ideas were transforming European thought as the medieval gave way to the modern. Astronomers like Copernicus and Galileo, philosophers like Montaigne, and even playwrights such as Shakespeare, who observed human nature just as intently as the astronomers who studied the night sky, were hinting at the brave new world to come.

A synthesis of science, history, and literature, The Science of Shakespeare introduces readers to a colourful cast of Renaissance scientists and thinkers, exploring how together they changed the world forever.

About the author

Dan Falk is a science journalist, author, and broadcaster. His books include In the Search of Time: Journeys along a Curious Dimension and Universe on a T-Shirt: The Quest for the Theory of Everything, winner of the 2002 Science in Society Journalism Award. He has written for the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Walrus, Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist; he has also been a regular contributor to CBC Radio's Ideas. Falk recently completed a prestigious Knight Journalism Fellowship at MIT, where he undertook much of the research for this book.

Dan Falk's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"This eminently readable book should prove fascinating to both lovers of science and bardolators."

<i>Library Journal</i>

"Falk has done an admirable job of boning up on the output of the playwright whose works contain lines, hints and metaphors that refer to the latest discoveries."


"Falk takes the reader on an eventful tour through science in the early modern era. ... The work is well-informed, enthusiastic, and recommended to anyone seeking a new take on the oft-studied Bard."

<i>Chemistry World</i>

"An engaging tour guide, Dan Falk takes us on a merry romp through Shakespeare's folio, revealing how the Bard might have been influenced by the Renaissance in science going on all about him. An absorbing, new perspective on the scientific revelations of the Elizabethan world."

Marcia Bartusiak

"Author! Author! Dan Falk is the finest science writer working today. This fabulous book will give equal joy to fans of the Bard and to history-of-science buffs. Note to Horatio: Read this — it'll bring you up to speed."

Robert Sawyer

"Dan Falk has written another splendid book. After Universe on a T-Shirt and In Search of Time, he moves back four centures to the science of Shakespeare's day. Falk sheds enormous light on the Elizabethan outlook and particular puzzles in the plays, all the while entertaining us in a most engaging way."

James Robert Brown

"Falk paints an absorbing picture of the world in which Shakespeare moved."

<i>Chronicle Herald</i>

"There is science in everything, even the works of the immortal Bard. Dan Falk's rich and fascinating book brings to light the many ways in which Shakespeare and science influenced each other, from telescopes to blood-letting. A great read for anyone who enjoys words and ideas."

Sean Carroll

"Dan Falk's book provides perhaps the best guide to the scientific worldview prevailing in the Elizabethan Age. We learn, for example, about what Giordano Bruno did while in England, about Thomas Harriot's telescopic view of the Moon's surface drawn some months before Galileo's, and of the appearance of atoms in several of Shakespeare's plays. Falk's narrative voice is smooth, reasonable, likable."

Phillip Schewe

"In this thought-provoking book, Dan Falk explores the intriguing connections between the Bard's writings and the dramatic scientific discoveries of the late Renaissance, introducing us to a fascinating cast of characters along the way."

Ray Jayawardhana

"Readers will thank Falk for putting Shakespeare and Galileo on the same well-illuminated world stage."


"A lucid history of early Renaissance science."

<i>National Post</i>