Why did Edwardian novelists portray journalists as swashbuckling, truth-seeking super-heroes whereas post-WW2 depictions present the journalist as alienated outsider? Why are contemporary fictional journalists often deranged, murderous or intensely vulnerable?
In The Journalist in British Fiction and Film author, journalist and lecturer Sarah Lonsdale traces the ways in which journalists and newspapers have been depicted in fiction, theatre and film from the dawn of the mass popular press to the present day.
A new book launched this month, entitled ‘Shakespeare Unravelled. Court plays: the 1623 deception’ delves into the rich history and controversy surrounding William Shakespeare’s First Folio of 1623. The book argues that the plays in this publication were brought together because of their significance for the Sidney-Herbert family, patrons of poets and playwrights over many generations.
Pauline Black, researcher and co-author says “A key point here is that these plays were produced for Elizabethan and Jacobean court entertainment not the popular stage. These thought- provoking dramas were written for the intelligentsia by well-educated writers –certainly not by the attributed author, Shakespeare.” The book launch coincides with William Shakespeare’s Anniversary (April 23rd) throwing new light on a highly contentious issue subject.
The book looks into the reasons which prompted the concealed authorship, principally the fear of Spanish domination at the time because of the impending royal marriage of Crown Prince Charles and a Spanish Princess. This outcome could incur severe repression of English freedom of expression. The Protestant aristocracy, led by William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, were determined to preserve their literary and historical heritage. This included the Tudor royal legitimacy dramatised in the English history plays. The deceased Shakespeare was chosen to avoid potential punishment of writers and editors (a duty of patrons) since he was beyond retribution for heresy or unorthodox writing by a tyrannical power.
Shakespeare Unravelled presents a detailed portrait of William Shakespeare and the period. Shakespeare’s parents were illiterate, so were his children. The Bard had limited local schooling and no higher education. Yet the claimed author, a tradesman’s son, wrote almost entirely about royalty and the courts of Europe while displaying detailed knowledge of aristocratic life and the law. Without visiting Italy he was aware of the country’s history, geography and language. Shakespeare’s comprehension of classical texts is another mystery. For centuries there have been doubts about the authorship of the First Folio. Alongside the profile of Shakespeare, play-broker and money lender, the book throws a new spotlight upon popular theatre and its great contrast with entertainment for the court.
William Stafford lives and writes in the Black Country. After working in libraries and teaching Drama in schools and colleges, he now devotes much of his time to his novels, which blend his irrepressible sense of humour with science fiction, historical fantasy, or whodunits.
He speaks to Jason McCrossan on 106.9 SFM www.sfmradio.com about his latest novel Kiss of the Water Nymph: A Hector Mortlake Adventure.
Seeking inspiration, hack writer Hector Mortlake embarks on a journey across late 19th century Europe. He invites the people he encounters to submit short stories to a contest but soon the travellers find themselves at an isolated hotel and caught up in a series of suspicious deaths. Could there be something to the local myth of the water nymph after all?
International best-selling crime thriller novelist Peter James spoke to Jason on 106.9 SFM about his life and his play, currently touring the UK called Dead Simple. It’s adapted from his best selling novel of the same name.