Thursday, 25 November 2010


In true bardic style, even Meredith Whitford’s title to her new novel, Shakespeare’s Will, is a pun.

The book, released today by BeWrite Books, has little to do with Shakespeare’s last will and testament and everything to do witth his wanton will and his wayward wont. And the pun on Willy’s name doesn’t end there ... but let’s allow readers to discover that for themselves.

Shakespeare’s Will
is based on thirty years’ hard research that has led Meredith to portray an Anne Hathaway that shatters the popular image. Her Anne is as lovingly devoted, loyal, intelligent and strong as her William is insecure, weak and bed-hoppingly unfaithful.

Meredith is a myth-buster. Profound research for her last BeWrite Books novel, Treason (which won the prestigious international Eppie Award for Historical Fiction), brings to vibrant life a Richard III who is the opposite of the cruel, conniving, hunch-backed king in Shakespeare’s play. But, of course, unlike Shakespeare himself, Meredith didn’t risk a traitor’s sticky end with her neck stretched across the Bloody Tower’s chopping block.

Her new novel – and you’ll find subtle and fun references to the Bard’s work carefully hidden on almost every page – is a tantalising mix of fact and fiction, populated by larger-than-life characters that actually existed and is set against the often harsh realities of Elizabethan life in London and rural England. The accompanying author and editor notes are a fascinating bonus.

Here’s what the back cover notes to Shakespeare’s Will have to say:

The last man well-off, clever and attractive Anne Hathaway needs is the penniless eighteen-year-old son of a disgraced and bankrupt glove-maker.

But she shares unhappy William Shakespeare’s secret dreams ... and she's pregnant with his child. Eight years his senior, she marries him, and she soon discovers that to keep her husband’s love she must do everything in her power to make his dreams come true.

For years, she and her children endure the boredom of rustic Stratford while William writes and acts in London and tours the country with his troupe of actors, making no secret of his romantic conquests along the way.

When things start to look up for the budding play-maker, Anne takes her little family to join him in the dirty and dangerous, plague-infested capital; a world of eccentric actors and heartless cut-throats, pompous writers and sly royal spies, spendthrift playboy aristocrats and brazen whores.

Her love and unbounded ambition for her husband lead him to a wealthy, titled and beautiful young patron ... and into the golden boy’s arms, and his bed.

Anne can turn a blind eye to this affair, but when Shakespeare’s wayward will takes another turn and he falls hopelessly in love with a dark and dangerous woman, she must apply her devotion and cunning in a way that will defy even history’s greatest story-weaver’s imagination.

Will Anne’s desperate risk save their marriage ... or destroy it?

The book was written, of course, by Meredith Whitford. It was edited by Neil Marr. Cover art and external and internal design was by Tony Szmuk, who also prepared the ebook editions in PDF, ePub and Mobi formats.

It’s available in paperback and ebook at all major online stores, paperback on order from your local brick-and-mortar bookshop, and in all forms direct from BeWrite Books online bookstore at

You can read more about Meredith and her book and enjoy an entire chapter right now by going to BeWrite Books’ bookstore at or by clicking on the open book icon at the top right of this blog post.

Follow this link for an early review by CompulsiveReader’s Magdalena Ball:

The first BeWrite Books blog reader to email me ( will receive a free paperback copy hot off the press. Three others can claim the ebook edition in the digital format of their choice.

Happy reading. Neil

1 comment:

  1. A review here from award-winning film-maker and author Brian Kavanaugh ...

    Where there’s a will: A review.

    Much of William Shakespeare’s life is unknown apart from a few dates that chronicle his birth, marriage and death, but Meredith Whitford has gathered these facts, along with other tantalizing Shakespearian bits and pieces that have come down to us, to fashion
    the personal life of the greatest poet in the English language.

    Told largely through the eyes of his wife, Anne Hathaway, it chronicles the rise of William
    from country glove-maker to the London stage, success and acclaim.

    William’s passion and desire to create will be recognizable to those who burn with similar ambitions and who, along with Will, are tortured by the challenges of combining a home life with a career. The uncertainties, and sometimes sense of isolation, experienced by those surrounding a creative talent are portrayed in their frustrating realities.

    The isolation of the writer is another form of loneliness when the outside world must to be cut off to allow the phantom characters that inhabit the writer’s mind, be permitted their
    space to grow and develop flesh.

    All of this is contained in Shakespeare’s Will, in a style and language that brings 16th century England alive for us and the realisation that things are not so different today. Many contemporary artists will recognise the necessity of seeking patronage, not from an Earl or Monarch, but Arts bodies that dish out money provided the artist has jumped through their endless flaming hoops.

    The emotional lives of Anne, Will and Harry, the beautiful Earl of Southampton, who was literary minded, bisexual, and from a long Catholic dynasty, all are explored as well as Will’s fascination with the mysterious and carnal lady with the dark eyes. The steadfast emphasis is on love and the many variations on the meaning of that word.

    In a world of intrigue, political dangers and confusion, the marriage of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway must face up to all challenges, from long separations, mistrust,
    disappointments and the loss of a child.

    As Shakespeare brought his characters life, so does Meredith Whitford in what is an exciting and absorbing tale that will stay with you and, I believe, find you returning to it time and
    time again.


    Brian Kavanagh.
    Author of Belinda Lawrence Mysteries.