“Yes, Shakespeare’s genius is in the work. But in this sprightly volume, Andrew McConnell Stott argues that an eighteenth-century publicity stunt of a weekend—improvised, outsized, and in many ways absurd—put the playwright on the map. Stott's revel sparkles, even in the teeming rain.” — Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) and The Witches.
“A glorious, hilarious romp through the events of the three-day literary extravaganza of 1769 that made Shakespeare a household name and put Stratford-upon-Avon on the tourist trail. Zestful and witty, while positively bursting with anecdotes, insights and tales of theatrical and sexual derring-do. Once I’d started reading, I couldn’t put it down.” — John Guy, author of Mary Queen of Scots.
“Written with all the verve and wit as befits the subject and the age, Andrew McConnell Stott’s What Blest Genius? dives headlong into one of the more bizarre events of the eighteenth century—the Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare Jubilee of 1769. With a cast including the actor David Garrick, the memoirist James Boswell, and the ghost of Shakespeare himself, Stott elucidates how and why this place and time staged the real genesis of the Shakespeare ‘industry’ and the nascence of a cultural icon—borne, comically enough, out of the chaos of the world’s first literary festival.” — Ian Kelly, author of Mr. Foote’s Other Leg.