A graceful and sensual historical novel tracing William Shakespeare's momentous path of self-discovery, both as a writer and as a young man. Before he was William Shakespeare, playwright and poet, he was simply Will, a young man who dreamed of the writer he would someday be. Based on extensive research and historical fact, this richly detailed fictionalization of Shakespeare's formative years begins with the glover's son roaming the fields of Stratford, hungry for knowledge and restless to escape the boundaries of his small town and loveless marriage. Will leaves his family for London and becomes a struggling actor whose charmed, reckless circle of literary and theatrical friends includes John Heminges, Ben Jonson, and Christopher Marlowe. All the while, however, Shakespeare continues to challenge himself as a writer; soon he is selling his plays and earning acclaim in the world of the London theater and aristocracy. Yet perhaps his finest and most heartfelt writing of the period can be found in the sonnets written for the Earl of Southampton, the beautiful young lord whose affection and aloofness stir the poet's soul. The earl becomes Shakespeare's patron, friend, romantic rival, and eventually, his lover. With the earl and the bewitching Italian musician Emilia Bassano, Shakespeare plunges into a tempestuous love triangle that will threaten both his desire to write and his sense of himself.
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Used availability for Stephanie Cowell's The Players
April 1997 : USA Hardback
March 2017 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition