North by Shakespeare: A Rogue Scholar’s Quest for the Truth Behind the Bard’s Work

Hachette. Mar. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780316493246. $30. LIT
In 2015, Blanding was invited to talk about his book, The Map Thief, at Lafayette College. Afterward, his hosts introduced him to an independent scholar, Dennis McCarthy, who claimed he’d found evidence that proved Shakespeare had borrowed plots for his own plays from the vanished plays of Thomas North (d. 1604), best known now for a translation of Plutarch's Lives. That experience inspired this book, as Blanding followed McCarthy in his attempt to convince skeptics of his ideas. Blanding recounts the odyssey of an iconoclast scholar seeking recognition in a world to which he doesn’t quite belong. Even more, though, this book is a painstaking accounting of how McCarthy arrived at his conclusions. McCarthy finally had some success when in 2018 he co-authored a book on a newly uncovered manuscript by North’s brother older George. Using plagiarism software, he uncovered common word strings in North’s manuscript and the Bard’s plays, including Macbeth. The question of Shakespeare’s sources is one that can never fully be resolved, but Blanding believes that McCarthy’s ideas deserve a wider audience than they’ve received so far.
VERDICT Bardolators will want to read this book; for others, it’s an optional read.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing