“This is a remarkably learned book and although it is not the first to deal with Shakespeare and the law, its skilful collocation of a wide range of topics, including an appreciation of the mechanics of drama, provides invaluable insights into the plays considered and gives many opportunities to perceive how close Shakespeare was to matters of concern and controversy among lawyers of his time.” – Peter Happé,
Notes and Queries, Volume 60, Number 1
“It is often a banal truism to say that different readers will get different things from a book. However, it seems a particularly apt judgement to make about this work of Raffield's, due to the impressive range and depth of its scholarship. The work as a whole is concerned above all else with the lines of battle between the common law tradition and the exercise of prerogative powers, and for this reason ought to reach a wide readership.
Raffield...demonstrates a remarkable range of knowledge of the contemporary sources, whether legal, religious, political, theatrical, or philosophical. For this reason, this book is a highly useful resource for scholars of a number of disciplines within history, law, literature and theatre studies, and deserves to be read and used within all those fields.” – David Gurnham,
Social and Legal Studies, 21(3)
“It is now canon in progressive U.S. legal scholarship that to focus solely on the text of our Constitution is myopic. We look as well for "constitutional moments", moments when the zeitgeist is so transformed that our fundamental legal charter changes with it. In this breathtakingly erudite book, Paul Raffield argues that the late-Elizabethan period was such a "constitutional moment" in England, a moment literally "played out" for the polity by the greatest dramatist of all time. A lawyer and a thespian, Raffield handles both legal and literary sources with exquisite care. As with the works of the Old Masters, one dwells pleasurably on each detail until their cumulative force presses one backward to see the canvas in its sudden, glorious entirety. A major achievement.” – Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU School of Law,
“Shakespeare's Imaginary Constitution is a fascinating read of how art influences life and life reflects back on art.” – James A. Cox,
The Midwest Book Review, February 2011