The Boy Who Would be Shakespeare : A Tale of Forgery and Folly
In the winter of 1795, a frustrated young writer named William Henry Ireland stood petrified in his father's study as two of England's most esteemed scholars interrogated him about a tattered piece of paper that he claimed to have found in an old trunk. It was a note from William Shakespeare. Or was it?In the months that followed, Ireland produced a torrent of Shakespearean fabrications: letters, poetry, drawings--even an original full-length play that would be hailed as the Bard's lost masterpiece and staged at the Drury Lane Theatre. The documents were forensically implausible, but the people who inspected them ached to see first hand what had flowed from Shakespeare's quill. And so they did.This dramatic and improbable story of Shakespeare's teenaged double takes us to eighteenth century London and brings us face-to-face with history's most audacious forger.
- Hardback | 256 pages
- 144.78 x 210.82 x 27.94mm | 204.12g
- 01 Apr 2010
- INGRAM PUBLISHER SERVICES US
- Da Capo Press Inc
- Cambridge, MA, United Kingdom
- 12 page b/w photo insert
BlogCritics.org, 3/22/10 "Doug Stewart provides the reader with interesting speculation on why there are so few documents in existence that were products of Shakespeare's hand...Littered throughout the narrative are gossipy bits about literary notables, c. 1795, as well as the incredible account of those who should have known better desperately believing the forgeries were the real thing...In The Boy Who Would Be Shakespeare, Doug Stewart has authored a many-layered book that details vanity, greed, naivete, mores, and pride within both a family and society. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read--a fascinating page-turner that keeps us wondering what will happen next." Boston Globe "Short Takes" column, 4/4/10 "A lively account of an adolescent prank that achieved a kind of preposterous grandeur." The Independent, UK, 3/28/10 "The story of Ireland's output, and eventual confession (disbelieved by many as an attempt to save the reputation of his father, who was seen as the brains behind the operation) is epic." Santa Fe New Mexican, 4/2/10 "A rip-roaring, hard-to-put-down, true story of a frustrated young writer living in 18th-century London who thought he was at least as good as, if not better than, Shakespeare and set out to prove it."
About Doug Stewart
Doug Stewart frequently writes 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, Massachusetts.