Renaissance scholar and former private investigator Leslie Silbert has parlayed her experiences into a thriller that moves back and forth between the sixteenth century and the present day.
Leslie graduated from Harvard in 1998 with a degree in the History of Science. She’d spent the spring of her junior year abroad, reading Elizabethan drama at Oxford, and was so taken with the subject—particularly the playwright and spy, Christopher Marlowe—that she chose to enter Harvard’s graduate program in her field in order to further immerse herself in the Renaissance. Taking a blend of history, history of science and literature courses, she focused on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century ideas about curiosity and the pursuit of forbidden knowledge. At the heart of her research was the question: What type of knowledge was the most dangerous to pursue back then and why?
A year later, she decided the academic track wasn’t for her and applied for positions with some P.I. firms. As she tells it, “I loved school—for me, it’s hard to beat books and professors—but I got a little restless, liked the idea of taking my interests into the real world for a while…pursuing secrets myself instead of just reading about other people doing so. And when I interviewed with a former CIA man who’d once headed up the clandestine service, well, I knew that’s who I wanted to work for, to learn from.”