Ackroyd blends fact, fiction and a little bit of mystery in his
entertaining new novel following the success of
which he returns to the territory of literary plagerism that he first explored
Although most reviews
are positive, some reviewers feel that Ackroyd plays a little too fast and
lose with the facts (for example, he bumps Mary off 43 years earlier than she
actually died, and there is no historical evidence that William Ireland and the
Lambs were ever in contact, let alone that Mary was romantically infatuated with
Ireland). Questions such as these could have been cleared up with the use of an
author's note explaining where fact ends and fiction starts but all Ackroyd offers is a single comment stating that what he has written is "not a
biography but a work of fiction", in which he has...
Beyond the Book
William Henry Ireland
was born in London in 1777. His father, Samuel
Ireland, was a successful publisher of travelogues and collector of antiquities.
At an early age William became a collector of books and while apprenticed to a
mortgage lawyer he started to experiment with forgery - forging signatures on
genuinely old paper.
In 1794 he claimed to have discovered an old deed with
Shakespeare's signature on it - he presented said document to his overjoyed
father, and over a period of time proceeded to make more finds relating to
Shakespeare. In about 1795, at the tender age of 18, Ireland produced a whole
new Shakespeare play, Vortigern and Rowena
and sold the rights to the
Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. In January 1796 his...