I apologise for being absent from my blogs for several months. It seems, looking back, I have spent much of this summer revising various texts and proofs of forthcoming publications. This winter is likely to see publication of three different works. Having not been published in this country since 2000 (The Marriage of Souls) this is rather a heady prospect.
The first is my novel of The Sonnets, which is due to be be published in a limited, signed edition in hardback on November 3rd by The Friday Project, an imprint of Harper Collins. Scott Pack and his colleagues at TFP have overseen a beautiful-looking production (the front cover image is shown here). Paperback publication is due next year.
The Sonnets is set in 1592-4, when the London theatres were closed by plague and William Shakespeare was forced to earn his living by other means. The twenty-nine-year-old Shakespeare was fortunate to find a patron in the youthful Earl of Southampton, then nineteen, to whom he dedicated his long poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. The Sonnets is written from Shakespeare's perspective, and recounts Shakespeare's struggles to survive and write during those arduous and brutal times.
Thirty-two of Shakespeare's full sonnets are integrated into the narrative. One of my interests was to use a fictional form as a framework for some of Shakespeare's most well-known sonnets. A further interest in setting The Sonnets in this period was to recount the struggle between two powerful aristocrats. The Earl of Southampton had lost his father aged eight and his legal guardian was the brilliant but Machiavellian Lord Burghley, Chancellor of the Court of Wards and Queen Elizabeth's most influential adviser. Where Southampton loved the arts, Burghley regarded the theatre in particular as deeply seditious. The Sonnets recounts the conflict between these two powerful men, with Shakespeare a reluctant pawn between their opposed interests.
I shall be posting more blogs below on the progress of these various books over the next few months.