This fast-moving page-turner begins in 1616. Writer Ben Jonson has just been charged by the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery to edit a folio of Shakespeare plays that will be published as a tribute to the Countess of Montgomery’s deceased father, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Racing against time to find the missing manuscripts, Jonson’s mission turns dangerous when he hears the deathbed confession of the bedridden William Shaxper of Stratford.
The Earl of Oxford, jousting champion, court poet, and recognized writer and producer of court masques, has been compelled by Queen Elizabeth – his former lover – to keep his identity secret while writing history plays for the public theatres, broadcasting England’s need to levy taxes and build a navy to defend against attacks by the Spanish Armada.
Of necessity, Shaxper becomes Oxford’s impostor, a role made easy because the men are distant kinsmen. Oxford needs a front man to deliver the plays, and Shaxper, new in London, is seeking work as an actor, since public entertainment is the newest Elizabethan craze. Oxford and Shaxper find themselves locked in a symbiotic relationship necessary for both men to play their parts in writing and delivering propaganda plays in a time of war.
This is only one layer of secrecy cloaking this centuries-old conspiracy of silence about the mysterious Shakespeare pseudonym, explains Kline. There are many more.
Oxford and the Queen share numerous dark secrets that could be exposed if Oxford’s authorship were known, including the identity of their secret son, who is unaware of his true parentage and could have inherited England’s throne – if he had not tried to take it by force.
In her novel, Kline, like Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens and many other writers, calls into question everything we thought we knew about the Bard. Readers will see Shakespeare in a new light.
Kline comments, “For two hundred years, many illustrious and well educated people have been unable to associate the grain merchant from Stratford with the ingenious authorship of the Shakespeare canon. By identifying the Earl of Oxford as the true author of the world’s greatest plays, we show that writers create within the context of their experience, and that the result is a uniquely individual perspective.”
“Kline keeps the pages turning…The result is a thoroughly researched, convincing interpretation of one of the major theories of Shakespeare authorship that is likely to keep readers engaged…a lively interpretation that will win Oxfordian approval and may even convince Stratfordians to suspend disbelief and enjoy it.” – Kirkus Reviews
“The past fifteen years have brought an avalanche of credible new evidence that the Earl of Oxford – a dazzling Renaissance man in all senses of the phrase – played a key role in writing the poems and plays attributed to the actor Will Shakespeare. Following on the scholarship of Joseph Sobran (Alias Shakespeare, 1997) and Bertram Fields (Players, 2005), we now have valuable new contributions to the authorship conundrum from Syril and Peter Kline, in fiction and nonfiction respectively. We are all in their debt.” ~ Knight Kiplinger, financial journalist, Washington, D.C.
Author: Syril Levin Kline is an educator, journalist, theatre director, and performer who believes that challenging academic orthodoxy can lead to new insights and discoveries that enhance all fields of learning. She has two independent sons, two dependent cats, and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband Peter, author of The Shakespeare Mysteries. She proudly claims Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, as her own distant kinsman.
Shakespeare’s Changeling is now available from all good retailers and online at Amazon.co.uk.