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The Boy Who Would Be Shakespeare: A Tale of Forgery and Folly

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The Boy Who Would Be Shakespeare: A Tale of Forgery and Folly Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the winter of 1795, a frustrated young writer named William Henry Ireland stood petrified in his fathers study as two of Englands 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 Bards 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 Shakespeares quill. And so they did.

This dramatic and improbable story of Shakespeares teenaged double takes us to eighteenth century London and brings us face-to-face with historys most audacious forger.

Review:

"William Henry Ireland was an unassuming law clerk in Georgian England when he seemingly stumbled on the greatest literary find of his generation-a chest of documents in the home of an unnamed patron, full of Shakespeare's receipts, private letters, and a draft of an unpublished play. This find brought fame and notoriety to Ireland and his father, Samuel, a collector with a low opinion of his son. Soon, however, that fame turned to ignominy when it is was revealed that Ireland's Shakespearean trove was entirely fabricated; perhaps even more tragic was Samuel's unwillingness to believe his son had the talent to execute the forgery. Stewart's exhaustively researched examination of the Irelands' rise and fall is as entertaining as it is informative; modern readers, accustomed to Shakespeare's place of reverence, will be surprised to learn how ignorant Georgian England was of his work. Where Stewart's research truly shines is in accessing Ireland's human motivations-his desire for approval and artistic legitimacy, not profit, distinguishes him from other cons, making him neither wholly despicable nor pitiable. History and literary enthusiasts will be delighted with this smart investigation into a high-minded hoax." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Book News Annotation:

Stewart, a freelance journalist who writes about history and the arts, tells the story of the falsification of documents by a 19-year old British clerk, William-Henry Ireland, in 1795, who tried to pass them off as Shakespeare's in an attempt to impress his father. Since nothing survived in Shakespeare's own hand, he was able to produce letters, deeds, poetry, drawings, and a play that he claimed were Shakespeare's, which was staged in 1796. Stewart describes Ireland's family and life, his father's obsession with collecting antiquities, the cult of Shakespeare that existed at the time, publication of the papers, the inquiry into the forgeries, and his confession. A few facsimiles of the forgeries are included. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

The true story of how a quiet, unremarkable, nineteen-year-old clerk almost pulled off the greatest literary hoax of all time

About the Author

Doug Stewart frequently writes about history and the arts for Smithsonian magazine. A freelance journalist, his articles have also appeared in Time, Discover, and Readers Digest. He lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780306818318
Subtitle:
A Tale of Forgery and Folly
Author:
Stewart, Doug
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Subject:
General
Subject:
Shakespeare
Subject:
Other Miscellaneous Crimes
Subject:
Europe - Ireland
Subject:
General History
Subject:
London (England) History 18th century.
Subject:
Shakespeare, William - Forgeries
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20100323
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 pages of photographs
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 12.6 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Shakespeare » Criticism
History and Social Science » Crime » True Crime
History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History
History and Social Science » Europe » Ireland » General
History and Social Science » World History » Ireland
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

The Boy Who Would Be Shakespeare: A Tale of Forgery and Folly Used Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Da Capo Press - English 9780306818318 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "William Henry Ireland was an unassuming law clerk in Georgian England when he seemingly stumbled on the greatest literary find of his generation-a chest of documents in the home of an unnamed patron, full of Shakespeare's receipts, private letters, and a draft of an unpublished play. This find brought fame and notoriety to Ireland and his father, Samuel, a collector with a low opinion of his son. Soon, however, that fame turned to ignominy when it is was revealed that Ireland's Shakespearean trove was entirely fabricated; perhaps even more tragic was Samuel's unwillingness to believe his son had the talent to execute the forgery. Stewart's exhaustively researched examination of the Irelands' rise and fall is as entertaining as it is informative; modern readers, accustomed to Shakespeare's place of reverence, will be surprised to learn how ignorant Georgian England was of his work. Where Stewart's research truly shines is in accessing Ireland's human motivations-his desire for approval and artistic legitimacy, not profit, distinguishes him from other cons, making him neither wholly despicable nor pitiable. History and literary enthusiasts will be delighted with this smart investigation into a high-minded hoax." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
The true story of how a quiet, unremarkable, nineteen-year-old clerk almost pulled off the greatest literary hoax of all time
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