The Boy Who Would be Shakespeare

The Boy Who Would be Shakespeare : A Tale of Forgery and Folly

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This is the true story of how a quiet, unremarkable, 19-year-old clerk almost pulled off the greatest literary hoax of all time. In the winter of 1795, a frustrated young writer named William Henry Ireland stood petrified in his father's London study as two of England's most esteemed men of letters, in powdered wigs, interrogated him about a tattered piece of paper that he claimed to have found while rummaging in an old trunk. It was a note from William Shakespeare-a memorabilia collector's equivalent of the Crown Jewels. Or was it? In the months that followed, Ireland produced a torrent of Shakespearean fabrications: letters, deeds, poetry, drawings-even an original full-length play, Vortigern and Rowena, that would be hailed as The Bard's lost masterpiece and staged at the famous Drury Lane Theatre. The documents were hastily written and forensically implausible, but those who inspected them were blind to their flaws. They ached to see firsthand what had flowed from Shakespeare's quill. And so they did. In this dramatic and improbable story of Shakespeare's teenaged double, Doug Stewart takes us to 18th century London and brings us face-to-face with the most audacious literary forger in more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 144.78 x 210.82 x 27.94mm | 204.12g
  • The Perseus Books Group
  • Da Capo Press Inc
  • Cambridge, MA, United States
  • English
  • 12 page b/w photo insert
  • 0306818310
  • 9780306818318
  • 676,386

Review quote

Library Journal, 3/15/10 A vivid dissection of the folly of human nature. This is a great book club choice and an excellent selection for readers of literary thrillers, history, or social science. The Bookbag website, April 2010 [A] totally gripping account of one of literature s greatest hoaxes As a non-fiction thriller, this is absolutely first class Beneath all the excitement, though, there s a rather tender story of a boy, unsure of his place in the world, pining for his father s affection and yet knowing that his actions could eventually have dire consequences for that same father it s almost Shakespearean itself, and Stewart draws on this beautifully. In the course of a tightly focused narrative, the author also manages to provide a lot of really interesting information on life in Elizabethan times, and the power of the theatre and the press in the Georgian era Highest possible recommendation for anyone interested in Shakespeare, Georgian England, or true life thrillers. "show more

About Doug Stewart

Doug Stewart writes frequently about history and the arts for Smithsonian magazine. A freelance journalist, his articles have also appeared in Time, Discover, and Reader's Digest. He lives in Ipswich,show more