Boris Johnson’s much-delayed Shakespeare book now set for 2020

To be or not to be published ... Boris Johnson.

To be or not to be published … Boris Johnson. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

After indefinitely delaying his book on the riddle of “Shakespeare’s genius” due to the knotty puzzle of Brexit, Boris Johnson’s book on the Bard is finally set see the light of day, nearly four years late.

Originally scheduled to be published in October 2016, Johnson’s Shakespeare: The Riddle of Genius was delayed, with its publisher Hodder & Stoughton saying at the time that the book would “not be published for the foreseeable future”.

The Mail later reported that Johnson was believed to be paying back his £500,000 advance for the book, with rumours circulating that he had not written a single word, and that academics had been approached for “last-minute” assistance.

On Tuesday, Hodder & Stoughton confirmed that the book would now be published in April 2020, and that it is not yet finished.

According to the publisher, the book will see the former foreign secretary explaining “Shakespeare’s genius in a simple and readable way; in a way that gets to grips with what is really going on, what the characters are up to, what the point of it all is; and in a way that sets the man simply and intelligibly in the context of his time”.

“He explores not only the origin of Shakespeare’s genius, but also the nature of his genius. If Shakespeare is the greatest ever, then of what exactly does his greatness consist?” said H&S, which has previously published Johnson’s bestselling biography of Britain’s wartime leader The Churchill Factor, which the Guardian called “self-serving but spirited”.

“What makes Shakespeare Shakespeare? That, as the man once said, is the question,” said Johnson, who similarly paraphrased the playwright when he pulled out of the race for the Conservative party leadership in 2016. He is widely expected resume that race in the coming months, but at that point he said it was a “time not to fight against the tide of history but to take that tide at the flood and sail on to fortune”. The quote comes from Brutus’s line in Julius Caesar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” When he makes the speech, Brutus has already stabbed Caesar.

[“source=theguardian”]