By MICHAEL CAINES
The news that Boris Johnson is to write a biography of Shakespeare has not been greeted with universal joy. As the Sunday Times reported yesterday, the Mayor of London and MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip is to write the book promptly, for a mildly impressive sum of money, in time to be published next year – the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. And why not? Johnson's most recent biography, The Churchill Factor, is deemed to have been a commercial success: it has sold some 160,000 copies. Never overawed by such footling matters, the TLS called it "a jaunty, opinionated and ahistorical piece of hagiography". (Ah. That's why not.)
That's also pretty much what we can expect from Johnson's Life of Shakespeare, isn't it? Johnson has given us plenty of warning, in any case: he's already written at length about the man he has called "the world's top author" . . . .