Welcome to Episode #009 of That Shakespeare Life, the podcast that takes you behind the curtain and into the life of William Shakespeare.

I believe that if you want to understand Shakespeare's plays, then understanding the life of William Shakespeare, the man, is essential. This podcast is designed to help you explore early modern England as Shakespeare would have lived it by interviewing the historians, performers, authors, and experts that know him best.

Today, Grace Tiffany is joining us to discuss the subject of her first novel, Judith Quiney, and take us inside the life of Shakespeare’s second daughter.

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Grace Tiffany is a successful novelist, author, and professor of Shakespeare at Western Michigan University. Her first novel, My Father Had a Daughter, was published in 2003, and is a fictional tale about the life of Shakespeare’s second daughter Judith. While fictional, the book brings the historical facts about Judith Quiney to life on the pages of her book. Since her debut novel, Grace has completed 6 historical novels set in the Renaissance or Middle Ages and her work focuses primarily on Shakespeare. Her latest book, Gunpowder Percy, builds on the historical facts surrounding the 1605 Gunpowder Plot when Shakespeare was 41 years old. In addition to her novels, Grace has received numerous research and teaching awards for her creativity in the field of Shakespeare Studies. She has written numerous scholarly articles and monographs on Renaissance history and culture, with her work appearing in Shakespeare Studies, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, and The Renaissance Quarterly, among others. James Shapiro, the celebrated Shakespearean author and one of the foremost Shakespeareans of our time, has called Grace’s book The Turquoise Ring, one of the six best creative adaptations of Shakespeare in history.

In this episode, I’ll be asking Grace about :

  • What can an author learn about reality when they do research for a fictional novel?
  • Did Judith Quiney really cause a scandal which caused her Dad (William Shakespeare) to adjust his will?
  • Was Judith literate? Did she write like her father? How do we know what we do have about her life?
  • Did she have children?
  • What was her life like?

Books Grace Recommends:

Russel Frazer

Young Shakespeare

Shakespeare the Later Years

Andrew Gurr
Grace does not mention titles of his specifically, but here are a few of this books you can check out (or search amazon for Andrew Gurr. He has several books published on early modern theater worth checking out.)

The Shakespearean Stage 1574-1642

William Shakespeare: The Extraordinary Life of the Most Successful Writer of All Time*

Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625

Playgoing in Shakespeare's London

Grace notably, and specifically, advises against reading the very popular Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World. She felt his work moves too far into conjecture and recommends instead that someone looking to know William Shakespeare spend time reading primary documents and stick as closely as you can to fact – while being clear when you're writing a novel that it's fiction when it's fiction. She took particular care to warn aspiring authors against confusing your audience over fact vs speculation. Good advice!

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Thank you!

Resources mentioned in today's episode:

Today Grace mentioned the importance of going back to the primary documents and reading the material which Shakespeare himself would have been reading. There are many places to find such documents, but here are some online digital archives that will help.

Note: Primary document means anything that dates to the time period you are studying in history. When you're studying William Shakespeare, a primary document is anything produced during his lifetime which constitutes an original source. For example, there are many letters written by visiting dignitaries who saw a Shakespeare play, then wrote home about it. Their letters are one kind of primary document.

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