In Shakespeare's Shadow: A Rogue Scholar's Quest to Reveal the True Source Behind the World's Greatest Plays

Category: Book
By (author): Blanding, Michael
Subject:  HISTORY / General
  LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
Publisher: Hachette Books
Published: May 2022
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 496
Size: 8.20in x 5.45in x 1.55in
Our Price:
$ 23.99
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

The true story of a self-taught sleuth's quest to prove his eye-opening theory about the source of the world's most famous plays, taking readers inside the vibrant era of Elizabethan England as well as the contemporary scene of Shakespeare scholars and obsessives.

What if Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare . . . but someone else wrote him first? Acclaimed author of The Map Thief, Michael Blanding presents the twinning narratives of renegade scholar Dennis McCarthy and Elizabethan courtier Sir Thomas North. Unlike those who believe someone else secretly wrote Shakespeare, McCarthy argues that Shakespeare wrote the plays, but he adapted them from source plays written by North decades before.

In Shakespeare's Shadow alternates between the enigmatic life of North, the intrigues of the Tudor court, the rivalries of English Renaissance theater, and academic outsider McCarthy's attempts to air his provocative ideas in the clubby world of Shakespearean scholarship. Through it all, Blanding employs his keen journalistic eye to craft a captivating drama, upending our understanding of the beloved playwright and his "singular genius."

Winner of the 2021 International Book Award in Narrative Non-Fiction

Review Quote*"Did an amateur American sleuth discover a startling new source for Shakespeare's works? Investigative journalist Michael Blanding journeys across space and time to piece together fascinating evidence that will absolutely transform our interpretation of the classics. North by Shakespeare is a rollicking good tale of detective work, in which an outsider battles the establishment for the soul of the world's most revered playwright."-Rachel Slade, author of Into the Raging Sea
Review Quote*"A dizzyingly complex story, expertly woven together, that takes readers deep into the overlapping worlds of Shakespeare studies, Elizabethan history, and contemporary literary analysis."-Toby Lester, author of The Fourth Part of the World and Da Vinci's Ghost
Review Quote*"Michael Blanding tackles the perennial question of who really wrote Shakespeare's plays, following the work of an unlikely scholar who dissects the Bard's language with technological tools that earlier generations had no access to. This compelling take on the age-old quest to understand the foundations of the world's greatest literature isn't only a great detective story, it also raises important epistemological questions about how we know what we know in the first place."-Scott Carney, author of What Doesn't Kill Us
Review Quote*"Michael Blanding takes us on a fascinating, eye-opening journey to unlock the centuries-old mysteries surrounding Shakespearean genius, offering fresh insights into Elizabethan history along the way. This captivating book does for English lit what The Da Vinci Code did for the Holy Grail."-Neil Swidey, author of Trapped Under the Sea and The Assist
Review Quote*"Once again, Michael Blanding proves himself both a brilliantly dogged reporter and a masterful storyteller. In investigating the scholar who is himself investigating the true source of Shakespeare's plays, [Blanding] creates one heck of a double, and doubly suspenseful, detective story. Rich with sumptuous historical details and discoveries that ripple through the deepest fault lines of literature, North by Shakespeare is a page-turner that will utterly upend what you think you know about the classics."-Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body
Review Quote*"Part exposition, part narrative, Blanding's book provides honest insights into the motivations, methods, frustrations, and reverie of scholars grappling with the incomplete record of history, and a revealing picture of what is at stake in scholarly debates about the answers to historical puzzles. Whether or not readers are fully swayed by McCarthy's arguments about the extent of North's literary endeavors or his role in shaping Shakespeare's work, Blanding's presentation of his quest to build these arguments is both entertaining and provocative."-Laurie Johnson, Professor of English and Cultural Studies, University of Southern Queensland, and President, Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association
Review Quote*"A fascinating detective jaunt through history-all the better for the depth of its scholarship."-Fred Melamed, Actor and Founding Member, Shakespeare & Co.
Review Quote*"For readers who love the Bard… this expands our understanding of how the most iconic plays ever written possibly came into existence….The dramatic lives of both men are cleverly illustrated by journalist Michael Blanding, who creates a tense, readable book exploring a bold theory….This fascinating book adds to the narrative behind Shakespeare and presents evidence that may change the way readers see the works forever."-San Francisco Book Review
Review Quote*"Blanding dramatizes very effectively the thrill of this literary investigation, giving readers a revelation-by-revelation account of the developments in McCarthy's thinking without ever drowning them in trivia. The book likewise does a virtuoso job of evoking both the realities of Shakespeare's world and the twists and turns of the whole Shakespeare question….The most elegant proposed solution to the authorship question to appear in many decades. 
"North by Shakespeare gives a curiously invigorating glimpse of that jobbing, hustling Shakespeare….Does [it] finally settle the Shakespeare authorship question?….[T]his isn't some silly conspiracy theory. Orthodox scholars who simply ignore it do so at the peril of their reputations."-Christian Science Monitor