The last time most of us seriously thought about the kind of
processes that went into the writing of Shakespeare’s plays was the
last time we saw Joseph Fiennes playing the role of Shakespeare
himself opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in “Shakespeare in Love.” Sarah
Smith, an author renowned for being an entertaining and witty
speaker, will address the most famous question about Shakespeare’s
authorship – whether he was, in fact, the author of the plays that
we now attribute to him – this afternoon at 3 p.m. in the Michigan
Union Pond Room.

Janna Hutz

Smith, author of two New York Times Book Review Notable Books of
the year and the holder of a doctorate in English from Harvard
University, is also the author of the new and enormously
well-received history-mystery tale “Chasing Shakespeares.” Although
she will be speaking from 3 to 4 p.m., she will be available in the
Union beginning at 10 a.m.

“Chasing Shakespeares” is the story of two Harvard graduate
students, Posy Gould, the daughter of a famous producer in
Hollywood, and Joe Roper, a Vermonter who fits neatly more neatly
into the classic stereotype of obstinate New Englanders. The pair
have come across a letter, signed by a “W. Shakespeare,” which
claims that he was not the author of the plays. While Joe is
doubtful of the authenticity of the letter, Posy is certain it’s
real. They leave for England in search of more evidence, each for
his own opinion. In the England of today, a far cry from the Bard’s
Britain, they begin on a trail of both literary and self-discovery
– each finding something more than either of them bargained

This book should prove the perfect vehicle to encourage
discussion at the University about the problem of Shakespearean
authorship. Because Smith’s prose style is so effortlessly
sophisticated, the fictional story of Posy and Joe (interesting
enough as an exercise in character study alone) will draw readers
into the greater historical questions without even realizing it.
Smith has picked a very effective platform to reinvigorate this
debate: Through her fiction, she craftily sows the seed of
intellectual curiosity in readers’ minds. For those who are already
experts on this controversy, footnotes to the novel (about poem
quotations, historical events referenced, etc.) can now be found at

Smith has succeeded in launching a weighty intellectual project
through a fictional story of mass appeal. Her book has already
resurrected the important problem of Shakespeare’s authorship – and
the importance of authorship in general – on the pages of the
nation’s leading newspapers. Her appearance at the University will
be a treat for lovers of literature and history alike – few authors
are able to blend these areas with the genre of the modern-day
mystery with Smith’s skill and ease (and enjoyable


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