North by Shakespeare: A Rogue Scholar’s Quest for the Truth Behind the Bard’s Work

Michael Blanding. Hachette, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-49324-6
Journalist Blanding (The Map Thief) sheds light on the origin of Shakespeare’s works in this lively account of independent scholar Dennis McCarthy, who believes the Bard’s plays were inspired by now lost works written by Elizabethan courtier Thomas North. McCarthy began studying Hamlet in 2005 out of personal curiosity. A college dropout in his mid-40s, Blanding writes, McCarthy soon became a self-educated Shakespeare expert, self-publishing a book of his findings in 2011. Much of the evidence for his theory comes from his work comparing Shakespeare’s texts to documents written by North using antiplagiarism software (such as his translations of Dial of Princes and the works of Plutarch), tracing their similarities to works including Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Also, North’s inside knowledge of a 1551 murder in Arden, specifically, points to plot points in Arden of Faversham, a play believed to be by Shakespeare. Much of the book is taken up with summarizing Elizabethan history to provide context for McCarthy’s theories, but Blanding does a good job of capturing the eccentric McCarthy and his passion to get to the bottom of this particular rabbit hole. Shakespeare fans and readers who enjoy the thrill of a good bibliographic treasure hunt will want to check this out. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/05/2021
Release date: 03/30/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-1012-2
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