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About the author


Writer in front of the Palmers' window, St Laurence's, Ludlow.
Photo: Shaun Ward.

Storytelling for me began with my father. I imagine William Shakespeare hearing plenty of stories from his own, the larger-than-life John who came from the country into the town, rose to be mayor of Stratford and funded it all not so much from glove-making but from illegal wool-dealing until it all went wrong. I have met national figures who stood in awe of fathers who had simpler lives. The larger presence of the father casts its shade - William Shakespeare was never a leading man onstage which has influenced how I have described him. I don't assume I have 'nailed' him; first ‘nail’ yourself, a lifetime’s study.

Coming from a military, musical family, I was educated at the Duke of York's Royal Military School, Dover. A Law degree at St Catherine's, Oxford had my kindly tutor rate me "capable but not interested" - shades of lawyer Lambarde with ex-pupil Palmer in Shakespeare in Trouble! Teaching English in Verona and a career in London promoting the arts taught me how to 'put it over.'

I began writing when I tracked down my natural mother to find that I was a Lancastrian by birth not a Yorkshireman! At Oxford, the mercurial historian A.L. Rowse took me under his wing while he was discovering his dark lady of the sonnets - Emilia Bassano - whom I have borrowed. In business I worked with great performers. When I first heard a noted actor deliver words of mine as if they were his own, I knew I had found what I wanted to do.

Like my character Richard Palmer, Clerkenwell in London was my patch. His name comes from the Palmers Guild which in the 1400s rebuilt St Laurence's Church in Ludlow where I live and which reached nationwide. We know that Shakespeare’s son-in-law Dr Hall had patients in this Shropshire town – my researches show that WS may have visited with Pembroke’s Men in 1592/3. Ludlow retains something of the size and feel of Shakespeare's Stratford where I served as a trustee for the Friends of Shakespeare's Church where he lies buried.

A word on methodology: Palmer always operates within a niche, where the outcome is known but not how it was reached. So we know that the Essex uprising of 1601 used the Richard II play to get the mob in the mood for regicide but not how much trouble it got the author into or how he got out of it (Shakespeare in Trouble, 2015). Fire, Burn! (2016) deals with the terror threat in the Gunpowder Treason of 1605 where the writer implicated was Ben Jonson. We know that the plot was betrayed by a letter of warning but not with certainty from whom. The Trouble with Words (2017) takes on the obscure provenance in 1609 of Shakespeare’s Sonnets courtesy of the fabled ‘Mr W.H.’ Palmer is involved, in his new job in the Censor’s office at the same time as having a run-in with a psychopathic character whose second job is as co-writer with William Shakespeare. Completing the cycle, Shakespeare’s Heir (2018) takes Palmer into the late Jacobean and Caroline periods in the wake of poet and playwright William Davenant; he worryingly fancies himself heir to Shakespeare’s body as well as his art.

Click here for more details of Shakespeare in Trouble, Fire Burn!,
The Trouble with Words and Shakespeare’s Heir and to order copies.

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Copyright (c) Christopher Crowcroft,