Most of the events in this novel happened and were derived from the biographies of Edward De Vere (17th Earl of Oxford), William Shaxper of Stratford, Ben Jonson, William Cecil (Lord Burghley), Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Robert Cecil and others. The story line was constructed from actual events and linked together the same way a forensic scientist builds a compelling case based on evidence.
Some events in the book were dramatized to blend with fact. For example, we know that during a performance of All is True, The Globe caught fire and burned to the ground, but we don’t know whether Shaxper was prepared to make a speech naming the real author and confessing his own role as front man. Yet we do know that after the fire, Shaxper went home to Stratford and never wrote (or took credit for writing) another play again.
On writing dialogue for historical characters, George Bernard Shaw once said that he preferred not to write what he thought the characters had said, but rather, what he thought they would have said if they had known what they were really doing. Retrospect and the judgment of history conspire to allow us to speculate on a character’s thoughts, emotions and deeds. A writer builds well-constructed scenes that show characters involved in the roles they played as history unfolded. As you read this novel, step into the shoes of Lord Oxford, William Shaxper, Queen Elizabeth I, Ben Jonson and others so that you can imagine how you would have performed if you had been that person.
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