The Boy Who Would be Shakespeare: A Tale of forgery and Folly (DaCapo Press, ISBN 978-306818318 , March 2010, $24.95) tells the true story of how a quiet, unremarkable, nineteen-year-old clerk almost pulled off the greatest literary hoax of all time. In the winter of 1795, a frustrated young writer named William-Henry Ireland stood petrified in his father’s study as two of England’s 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. He’d hoped to impress his chilly, Shakespeare-worshipping father. Instead he caused a public sensation. No one had seen any of Shakespeare’s manuscripts before. Scholars, dukes, the future king, the poet laureate—people who should have known better—were thrilled by the boy’s discoveries. His play was greeted as Shakespeare’s lost masterpiece and staged before a tumultuous full house at London’s prestigious Drury Lane Theatre. The documents were forensically implausible, but the people who inspected them ached to see firsthand what had flowed from Shakespeare’s quill…and so they did. Doug Stewart is a freelance journalist who writes frequently about history and the arts for Smithsonian magazine. His articles have also appeared in Time and Discover. He lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. “A fascinating tale of forgery, greed, and deception. It’s the Catch Me If You Can of eighteenth-century London—gripping, fast-moving, and funny.”—Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Vanished and Paranoia (CornerstoneBooks)
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