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The case: Find the true origins of William Shakespeare’s work.  The sleuth: contemporary renegade scholar Dennis McCarthy.  The suspect:  Sir Thomas North, an Elizabethan courtier. Using plagiarism software, McCarthy has found direct links between North’s published and unpublished writings and HamletMacbethRomeo and Juliet, and other of Shakespeare’s plays. What’s more, Shakespeare’s plotlines seem lifted straight from North’s colorful life.  McCarthy’s bold new theory: Shakespeare wrote the plays, but he adapted them from source plays written by North decades before. He believes many of them were penned on behalf of North’s patron, Robert Dudley, in his efforts to woo Queen Elizabeth.  Wow, that’s a lot to unpack. Michael Blanding, acclaimed author of The Map Thief, unpacks it all: the enigmatic life of Thomas North, the intrigues of the Tudor court, the rivalries of English Renaissance theater, and his attempts to air his provocative ideas in the clubby world of Shakespearean scholarship.

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