Chakrabarti and Branagh to narrate Shakespeare's sonnets for CUP

Chakrabarti and Branagh to narrate Shakespeare's sonnets for CUP

Cambridge University Press is to release an audiobook featuring all of Shakespeares sonnets, narrated by Lolita Chakrabarti and Kenneth Branagh.

Edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, All the Sonnets of Shakespeare was first published in 2020, and breaks new ground by arranging all of the sonnets, including those that appear in Shakespeare’s plays, in chronological order. 

The audiobook will be launched on 23rd October 2021, and will be available through Audible, nook and other major platforms.

Edmondson, head of research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “We are thrilled that Sir Kenneth Branagh is taking on the voice of Shakespeare himself by reading the 154 sonnets published in 1609. What is more Lolita Chakrabarti and he, two of the finest actors of their generation, are now adding to that number. In collaborating with the latest scholarship they are setting forth all 182 of Shakespeare sonnets, written over 30 years — freshly revealing personal poems and dramatic sonnet speeches.”

Emily Hockley, commissioning editor for literature at CUP, said: “We are delighted that Lolita and Kenneth are lending their wonderfully distinctive voices to this landmark edition of the sonnets. We couldn’t have wished for more and we hope their readings will enable listeners and readers alike to enjoy and to think about the sonnets afresh.”

Branagh commented: “This new arrangement of Shakespeare’s sonnets is a revelation. Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells have truly illuminated the author’s themes, preoccupations and obsessions. In so doing the poems have a fresh, and startlingly clear narrative progression. Thanks to their scholarship I found myself experiencing this work as never before. There is a directness, simplicity, and humanity, which shines from the page. It was an honour to read them in this form. I hope a large audience will enjoy seeing (and hearing), this new light shone on a great literary treasure.”

Chakrabarti added: “Exploring the sonnets hidden in some of Shakespeare’s most revered plays gives a new flavour and dynamic to those characters. It draws our attention to the author’s intention in each play, where he makes a character unexpectedly speak in poetry. It illuminates that moment and poses new questions. The detailed and extremely in-depth introduction strongly supports the original works and allows us to examine all of Shakespeare's sonnets in a new, exciting and precise way. I learned a lot from reading this. I hope others will too.”