From the acclaimed author of The Map Thief, the true story of a self-taught Shakespeare sleuth’s quest to prove his eye-opening theory about the source of the English language’s most famous plays, taking readers inside the vibrant era of Elizabethan England and the contemporary scene of Shakespeare scholars and obsessives.
A work of gripping non-fiction, North by Shakespeare presents the twinning narratives of rogue scholar Dennis McCarthy, called “the Steve Jobs of the Shakespeare community,” and Sir Thomas North, an Elizabethan courtier whom McCarthy believes to be the undiscovered source for Shakespeare’s plays.
Dennis McCarthy is an unlikely figure, a fifty-something college dropout who, for the last fifteen years, has obsessively pursued the true source of Shakespeare’s works. His findings are stunning. With the help of plagiarism software, he has not only found direct links between Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Thomas North’s published and unpublished writings, but he has also discovered plotlines in the plays seemingly lifted straight from North’s colorful life.
McCarthy’s wholly original conclusion is this: Shakespeare wrote the plays, but he adapted them from source plays written by North decades before-many penned on behalf of North’s patron Robert Dudley, in his efforts to woo Queen Elizabeth. That bold theory answers many lingering questions about the Bard with compelling new evidence, including a newly unearthed journal of North’s travels through France and Italy, filled with details of places appearing in the plays where Shakespeare himself is never known to have traveled. North by Shakespeare alternates between the dramatic life of Thomas North, the intrigues of the Tudor court, the rivalries of English Renaissance theatre, and outsider scholar Dennis 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 highly readable drama, up-ending our understanding of the beloved playwright and his “singular genius.”