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Title: ‘Dark Amelia’ a novel re-imagining historical characters within a fictional story; and a critical thesis: ‘Inventing Shakespeare’: Is this relevant to 21st century writers? A short history of made-up Shakespeares and an examination of the challenge of re-inventing iconic historical characters.’
Authors: O’Reilly, Sally Anne
Advisors: Brayfield, C
Evenden, E
Keywords: Creative writing;Historical fiction;Feminism;Authorship;Fact-based fiction
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: Motivation: When I set out to write a novel about Shakespeare’s Dark Lady, I wanted the focus to be on her, not the Bard. However, as I developed the idea, I realised that his character was an essential component of the narrative. So how should I set about ‘inventing’ such an iconic character? In addition, how relevant were earlier versions – biographical and fictional – to this project? Though I found a wealth of material about Shakespeare and his plays, I discovered there is a substantial sub-genre of Shakespeare invention. As a writer new to historical fiction, this felt a little like putting Jesus Christ into a story – and it turned out that some writers have given Shakespeare a distinctly Messianic character. Methods: In order to invent my own version of Shakespeare, I needed to assimilate what had gone before. The line between fact and fiction was blurred, but I clarified what was known and what unknown, and established what was myth. I then researched fourteen fictional versions of Shakespeare, starting with Kenilworth (Sir Walter Scott, Constable & Co, 1821) and ending with Shakespeare’s Memory (Jorge Luis Borges, Penguin, 2001). Results: My discovery was that the invention of history is a complex imaginative and intellectual process, but each writer solves a succession of challenges in their own way. Identifying these challenges helped me to create a new Shakespeare, and to clarify my own reasons for writing this particular novel. Conclusions: Far from being a form which is nostalgic, escapist or conservative, historical fiction is continually re-inventing itself in the light of the events and ideas which are contemporary to the writer. The continuing evolution and re-acquisition of the character of William Shakespeare is an illustration of its perennial significance.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:English and Creative Writing
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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FulltextThesisVol.1.pdfFull text PhD novel2.01 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
FulltextThesisVol.2.pdfCompanion to the full text PhD novel1.32 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

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