Ghostwriter: Shakespeare, Literary Landmines, and an Eccentric Patron's Royal Obsession (Hardcover)

Ghostwriter: Shakespeare, Literary Landmines, and an Eccentric Patron's Royal Obsession By Lawrence Wells Cover Image
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Part literary mystery, part an examination of what constitutes fiction versus reality, Ghostwriter is based on the true story of author Lawrence Wells, then 45, hired by the University of Mississippi in 1987 to ghostwrite a novel for a wealthy, eccentric donor ("Mrs. F," then 75), who was convinced that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, was William Shakespeare. Believing herself to be the reincarnation of Queen Elizabeth I, Mrs. F treated ghostwriter Wells as a "captive" Edward de Vere.

Their roller-coaster literary collaboration dramatized Elizabeth and de Vere's romance, which according to legend produced a son (Henry Wriothesley) born in secret. Henry grew up to become the 3rd Earl of Southampton, who is universally acknowledged as "The Fair Youth" of Shakespeare's sonnets and whose real-life descendants include Princess Diana and her sons, Prince Harry and William, Prince of Wales.

Wells and his late wife, Dean Faulkner Wells, niece of William Faulkner, traveled to England to research the life of Edward de Vere and interview proponents of the Shakespeare authorship debate. That summer, London tabloids headlined the royal breakup of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, incidentally echoing Wells and Mrs. F's tempestuous love story about Edward de Vere and Queen Elizabeth I.

Flashbacks weave several elements together--the seventeenth-century mystery of Queen Elizabeth's "royal bastard," Wells's evolving relationship with his eccentric patron, his search for the "real" Shakespeare, and the bawdy Elizabethan narrative he composed for his benefactor. The stories merge, leading to a surprising conclusion.

About the Author

Lawrence Wells's "Ghostwriter" manuscript was awarded the 2014 Faulkner-Wisdom Prize for narrative nonfiction at the Words and Music Festival in New Orleans. His memoir In Faulkner's Shadow, about his thirty-eight-year marriage to Dean Faulkner Wells, niece of William Faulkner, was published by University Press of Mississippi in 2020. Wells is also the author of two historical novels, Rommel and the Rebel and Let the Band Play Dixie. A third novel, Fair Youth, which he ghostwrote for Gertrude C. Ford, is to be published in 2024.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781496852434
ISBN-10: 1496852435
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Publication Date: July 10th, 2024
Pages: 216
Language: English