We’re currently experiencing temporary disruption to the availability of some titles as we move all of our books to a new warehouse, which means it may take longer than normal for your order to reach you. Click here for more information.

Year of the Mad King: The Lear Diaries
Imprint: Nick Hern Books
Hardback, 256 pages ISBN: 9781848426719Publication Date:
15 Mar 2018
Size: 216mm x 138mm
Ebook, 256 pages ISBN: 9781788500234Publication Date:
7 Mar 2018
£16.99 £13.59You save £3.40 (20%)

Year of the Mad King: The Lear Diaries

By Antony Sher


Ebook £16.99£13.59

  • WINNER: Theatre Book Prize - 2019

A fascinating insider account of researching, rehearsing and performing the part of King Lear for a major Royal Shakespeare Company production, Antony Sher's Year of the Mad King won the 2019 Theatre Book Prize awarded by the Society for Theatre Research.

In 1982, rising actor Antony Sher played the Fool to Michael Gambon's King in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of King Lear. Shortly after, he came back to Stratford to play Richard III – a breakthrough performance that would transform his career, winning him the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Actor. Sher's record of the making of this historic theatrical event, Year of the King, has become a classic of theatre writing, a unique insight into the creation of a landmark Shakespearean performance.

More than thirty years later, Antony Sher returned to Lear, this time in the title role, for the 2016 RSC production directed by Gregory Doran. Sher's performance was acclaimed by the Telegraph as 'a crowning achievement in a major career', and the show transferred from Stratford to London's Barbican. Once again, he kept a diary, capturing every step of his personal and creative journey to opening night.

Year of the Mad King: The Lear Diaries is Sher's account of researching, rehearsing and performing what is arguably Shakespeare's most challenging role, known as the Everest of Acting. His strikingly honest, illuminating and witty commentary provides an intimate, first-hand look at the development of his Lear and of the production as a whole. Also included is a selection of his paintings and sketches, many reproduced in full colour.

Like his Year of the King and Year of the Fat Knight: The Falstaff Diaries, this book, Year of the Mad King, offers a fascinating perspective on the process of one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of his generation.

'Wonderfully written and keenly observed' James Shapiro

'An inspirational joy... It lays bare the art of the actor in such an accessible, enjoyable way' Daisy Bowie-Sell, Judge of the 2019 Theatre Book Prize

Extract: 'I go over to my bag, find a picture, and stick it up among the others on the wall. It’s the one of Prince Philip which I sketched about a year ago.' Read an extract from Year of the Mad King on our blog.

Extra Content: read another extract at www.theartsdesk.com.

Press Quotes

'Riveting… a gripping account of the Herculean effort involved in staging an epic-scale production of Lear'

Times Literary Supplement

'A fascinating insight into the creation of a key production'

The Times

'As exhilarating as all Sher's other rehearsal journals, managing to encompass many of the biting pains of age, which bring him and Lear together, without losing any of the excitement of the creative journey... the sense of privileged intimacy is unique… an affecting, inspiring and wise book'

Dominic Dromgoole - Spectator

'Highly readable, full of fascinating Shakespearean insight and detail, and impressively illustrated with the author's own paintings and sketches'

Shakespeare Magazine

'Incredibly compelling… a fascinating read'

Drama Magazine

'A compelling piece of work, and pretty much impossible to leave to one side until you have reached the end of the story and the curtain goes up'


'A moving account of an intense period in a wonderful actor's life'

Times Higher Education

'Fascinating... Antony Sher is a fine writer who is capable of creating vivid images... it is an absolutely cracking read and comes strongly recommended'

British Theatre Guide

'Draws a fascinating, detailed picture... a window into a brilliant mind'

Broadway World

'A must-read… Antony Sher's diaries [are] essential 'how to' guides for young actors… it's wonderful to be able to read his thoughts and feelings as he comes to term with scaling this Everest of roles'

Sitting in the Cheap Seats
Imprint: Nick Hern Books
Hardback,256 pages ISBN: 9781848426719Publication Date:
15 Mar 2018
Size: 216mm x 138mm
Ebook,256 pages ISBN: 9781788500234Publication Date:
7 Mar 2018
£16.99 £13.59You save £3.40 (20%)

Also by Antony Sher:

Beside Myself
Primo Time
Year of the Fat Knight
Year of the King
The Giant
Year of the Fat Knight

Go to author page...

Similar Titles
Thirteen leading actors take us behind the scenes, each recreating in detail a memorable performance in one of Shakes...
An exploration of Shakespeare's life and work by a leading actor who has spent twenty thousand hours working on the p...
One of the world's most revered theatre directors reflects on a fascinating variety of Shakespearean topics.
Twelve leading actors take us behind the scenes of landmark Shakespearean pr...
Award-winning actress Harriet Walter shares insights gleaned from her vast experience of performing some of Shakespea...
A unique insight into Shakespeare's most monumentally complex character - and the play that bears his name - from a h...