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Publisher's Summary

From the acclaimed author of The Map Thief comes 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.

A work of gripping nonfiction, 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.

For the last 15 years, Dennis McCarthy has obsessively pursued the true source of Shakespeare's works, with fascinating results. Using plagiarism software, he has found direct links between Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and other plays and Thomas North's published and unpublished writings - as well as Shakespearean plotlines seemingly lifted straight from North's colorful life.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 of them 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 locations and details appearing in Shakespeare's plays.

North by Shakespeare alternates between the dramatic life of Thomas North, the intrigues of the Tudor court, the rivalries of English Renaissance theatre, and academic outsider 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".

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.  

©2021 Michael Blanding (P)2021 Hachette Books

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An exciting investigative adventure

Speaking as someone who has been passionate about the plays and poems of Shakespeare since my teens (30 years), and about as long equally engaged in the Shakespeare Authorship Question, this is truly a spellbinding book. I've read many books, essays, articles, watched many videos, documentaries, presentations, lectures on the SAQ, and changed my position on the various candidates over the decades, seeing the Stratfordian, Oxfordian, Marlovian cases, and others such as Neville's, Stanley's, and others, as having many good, persuasive arguments. There have been many brilliant people arguing for these candidates, Ros Barber and Peter Farey for Marlowe, Roger Stritmatter and Mark Anderson for Oxford, Brenda James and William Rubenstein for Henry Neville, Stephen Greenblatt and Anthony Burgess for the man from Stratford, John Raithel and James Greenstreet for William Stanley, and more. And yet, despite all of their arguments, it is hard to deny the strong possibility that what Dennis McCarthy has done with the brilliant help of his two collaborators, Michael Blanding (the author of this book) and June Schlueter (co-author of North's 1555 Travel Journal), just might have put forth a greater and more convincing argument than any previous Biographer of the Bard. In addition for the case that McCarthy makes for North's contribution, Blanding's writing in North by Shakespeare is absolutely spellbinding. Following two narratives that parallel each other - 1) McCarthy's journey to prove North's contribution to The Canon, including a very engaging narrative of their physical journey through Europe with McCarthy's daughter following with her documentary crew (a forthcoming doc that I am definitely looking forward to seeing), and 2) North's life and times. Blanding brilliantly goes back and forth between the two adventures of North's life in 16th century England and mainland Europe to McCarthy's journey of the last 15 years, the two narratives balancing and adding significance to each other in extremely engaging ways. As someone who has been open to changing my position when looking at new evidence and new arguments (unlike many in the debate, both Stratfordians and Anti-Stratfordians alike) and yet also continuing my deep enthusiasm in the SAQ, reading this book and listening to this Audible narration of it, I absolutely had a difficult time staying away from either, and have come away feeling that North was the true author of the Shakespeare Canon. Read the book or listen to this Audible production to find out why, along with checking out McCarthy's site on North and read the book by McCarthy and Schlueter about the 1555 Travel Journal by North. Take a look for yourself for North's case, the case for Marlowe, the case for Oxford, the case for Neville, the case for Stanley, the case for the Stratford man or anyone else, and come to your own conclusions. What is undeniable is that North has now become just as strong a candidate as any of them, if not more so. For I, after serious consideration, feel strongly that North (and unlike McCarthy, North alone, without the help of the Stratford man) was The True Bard. Enjoy and explore!

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