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Title: Dark Aemilia and inventing Shakespeare
Author: O'Reilly, Sally Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 9856
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
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Motivation: When I set out to write a novel about Shakespeare’s Dark Lady, I wanted the focus to be on her, not the Bard. However, as I developed the idea, I realised that his character was an essential component of the narrative. So how should I set about ‘inventing’ such an iconic character? In addition, how relevant were earlier versions – biographical and fictional – to this project? Though I found a wealth of material about Shakespeare and his plays, I discovered there is a substantial sub-genre of Shakespeare invention. As a writer new to historical fiction, this felt a little like putting Jesus Christ into a story – and it turned out that some writers have given Shakespeare a distinctly Messianic character. Methods: In order to invent my own version of Shakespeare, I needed to assimilate what had gone before. The line between fact and fiction was blurred, but I clarified what was known and what unknown, and established what was myth. I then researched fourteen fictional versions of Shakespeare, starting with Kenilworth (Sir Walter Scott, Constable & Co, 1821) and ending with Shakespeare’s Memory (Jorge Luis Borges, Penguin, 2001). Results: My discovery was that the invention of history is a complex imaginative and intellectual process, but each writer solves a succession of challenges in their own way. Identifying these challenges helped me to create a new Shakespeare, and to clarify my own reasons for writing this particular novel. Conclusions: Far from being a form which is nostalgic, escapist or conservative, historical fiction is continually re-inventing itself in the light of the events and ideas which are contemporary to the writer. The continuing evolution and re-acquisition of the character of William Shakespeare is an illustration of its perennial significance.
Supervisor: Brayfield, C.; Evenden, E. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Creative writing ; Historical fiction ; Feminism ; Authorship ; Fact-based fiction