My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakespeare’s Tale

Written by Grace Tiffany
Review by India Edghill


To the world, William Shakespeare was a sought-after playwright, a man of ability and wit. But to his children, he was a beloved stranger, appearing all-too-rarely and vanishing at whim. Judith Shakespeare idolizes her father and longs to be worthy of him. But when her twin brother Hamnet drowns, not only does young Judith blame herself, but also her father. And when she discovers that her father has fashioned a play out of her grief, her anger drives her to disguise herself as a boy and follow him to London. Although her initial goal is to shame her father, Judith finds herself swept up in the rowdy world of the Elizabethan playhouses. Playing roles both on and off the stage, Judith learns to value both her father and herself, and to make peace with her angry ghosts.

Comparisons with the movie Shakespeare in Love are inevitable, of course, and Tiffany’s novel is just as compelling and intriguing. As does that film, the book offers us a fascinating glimpse into Shakespeare’s world. My Father Had a Daughter tells a tale both sprightly and witty, poignant and touching.