Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hello To An Old Villain: Anthony Munday!

I had one of those small yips of joy that come when developing a new novel today. One of my favorite characters in MY NAME IS WILL is Anthony Munday, the spy and hack playwright/pamphleteer who, it is hinted, helps rat out William Shakespeare as a Catholic to Queen Elizabeth's spymaster Francis Walsingham, leading to the arrest of Shakespeare's Arden relations.

Munday was a late discovery in the writing process. I was looking for some source material for the Robin Hood pageant that William's rustic theatrical friends would perform in the forest of Arden, and came upon Anthony Munday's clumsy text for "The Death of Robin Hood." Looking for a little bit of background on the playwright, I discovered that he was not only a playwright but a (probably) anti-Catholic spy or double-agent who spoke at the hanging of, and then wrote pamphlets about, the hanging of Edmund Campion which I knew would be a centerpiece of my story. Bingo! My only regret was that because he was a late entry, I wasn't able to make as much use of him as I'd have liked.

Well, I've been doing some due diligence and reading Mark Anderson's SHAKESPEARE BY ANOTHER NAME in preparation for both my next novel and an article I hope to write about the "Shakespeare Authorship Controversy." (Anderson's book is, to my surprise, well-written and compelling, and although I'm still unconvinced by his premise, I may soften my tone somewhat about the Edward de Vere "Oxfordian" theory, which I ranted about in an earlier post.) Regardless of the authorship question, it is an excellent biography of the 15th Earl of Oxford, who will likely play a part in my next book.

So guess who has just shown up as de Vere's new personal secretary, at about the time Shakespeare will be coming on to the scene in London? None other than Anthony Munday! The plot thickens! I'm not sure how yet, but it definitely thickens!

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