Law Professor Turns to Fiction for 'The Shakespeare Chronicles'





Nineteen years ago, and 370 years after his death, William Shakespeare was on trial for literary fraud in front of three Supreme Court Justices.  The trial was not real of course, but it was public.  Before a panel made up of Justices William H. Brennan, Jr., Harry A. Blackmun, and John Paul Stevens, 900 observers in a Washington, D.C. church, and a national television audience, James Boyle , now the William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law at Duke, successfully argued that Shakespeare, not Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the true author of the Shakespearean canon.  The mock trial was covered on the front-page of The New York Times and sparked a New Yorker feature article.  Boyle says he received mail from Shakespearean “sleuths” for years afterwards.

It was this extraordinary level of interest in the event, as well as the nature of the conspiracy theories he unearthed in preparing his brief – and the vehemence with which they were put forth by their proponents – that inspired Boyle to write his most recent book, a departure from the intellectual property law scholarship for which he is best known.  The Shakespeare Chronicle:   A Novel, is a literary mystery about one man’s obsessive search for the true author of Shakespeare’s works.

The Shakespeare Chronicles jumps between Elizabethan England and a contemporary love affair, following English Professor, Stanley Quandary on his quest for the real Shakespeare.  Quandary’s interest is sparked by a bizarrely detailed series of historical dreams.  His growing obsession leads him to travel to Britain to find the truth his research suggests -- in Shakespeare’s tomb if necessary. 



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