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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-broking 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. It has influenced how I have described him but I don't assume I have 'nailed' him. First ‘nail’ yourself, a lifetime 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 have all involved 'putting 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 conductors, actors and dancers as well as on spectacular exhibitions in London museums and galleries. When I first heard a famous 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 the cathedralesque St Laurence's Church in Ludlow where I live. We know that Shakespeare played the Marches and that his son-in-law Dr Hall had patients in the Shropshire town – my researches show WS may have visited 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 operates within a niche, where the outcome is known but how it was reached is not. 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 why he got out of it (Shakespeare in Trouble, 2015). Fire, Burn! deals with the terror threat 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. In 2017, The Trouble with Words 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 a run-in with a psychotic whose second job is as co-writer with William Shakespeare...

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

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Copyright (c) Christopher Crowcroft,