Introduction & Overview of Shadowlands

William Nicholson
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Shadowlands Summary & Study Guide Description

Shadowlands Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading and a Free Quiz on Shadowlands by William Nicholson.

That the core love story of William Nicholson's Shadowlands has staying power seems undeniable. The account of the unusual relationship between British author and scholar C. S. Lewis, who wrote on Christianity and literature, and also wrote the Namia Chronicles many other children's books, and Joy Davidman Gresham, an American poet and self-described Jewish-Communist-Christian, has been told in three mediums. Nicholson originally wrote it as a television movie for the BBC in 1986 before adapting it for the stage in 1989 and for a feature-length film, which garnered an Academy Award nomination in 1993.

The theatrical production of Shadowlands debuted at Theatre Royal in Plymouth, England on October 5, 1989. The production later ran for approximately a year in London, winning the London Evening Standards, award for Best Play of 1990. Shadowlands made its New York premiere on November 11, 1990, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway. This production ran for about 180 performances.

Critics were sharply divided on Shadowlands. While many agreed that the play was very meaningful and tapped into powerful emotions about the nature of life, death, love, and suffering, others believed it was trite and inaccurate, if not sappy. But even critics that had problems with the play reported that Shadowlands had a cathartic effect on audiences, often leaving them in tears. For example, an unnamed critic in Variety questioned why the play even was written. The critic writes, "it is not clear why Lewis' musings or his 10 year relationship with Davidman needs to be staged. The story is both tragic and difficult." Yet other critics found much to praise. Gerald Nachman of the San Francisco Chronicle states "Shadowlands poses classic questions about God, pain and love, but mostly it makes you determined to embrace life. You can't ask much more of play than that."

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Drama for Students
Shadowlands from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.