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An in-depth study into the circumstances surrounding Shakespeare's sudden death, with a look at forensics and his death maskWilliam Shakespeare lived in violent times; so much so that his death passed without comment. By the time he was adopted as the national poet of England, the details of his life had been concealed. He had become an invisible man, the humble Warwickshire lad who entertained royalty and then faded into obscurity. But his story has been carefully manipulated. In reality, he was a dissident whose works were highly critical of the regimes of Elizabeth I and James I. This book examines the means, motive, and the opportunity that led to his murder, and explains why Shakespeare had to be "stopped." From forensic analysis of his death mask to the hunt for his missing skull, the circumstances of Shakespeare's death are reconstructed and his life reconsidered in the light of fresh discoveries. What emerges is a portrait of a genius who spoke his mind and was silenced by his greatest literary rival.
Sir William Davenant (1606-1668)—Poet Laureate and English Civil War hero—is one of the most influential and neglected figures in the history of British theater. He introduced "opera," actresses, scenes, and the proscenium arch to the English stage. Narrowly escaping execution for his Royalist activities during the English Civil War, he revived theatrical performances in London, right under Oliver Cromwell's nose. Davenant was known to boast over a glass of wine that he wrote "with the very spirit" of Shakespeare and was happy to be thought of as Shakespeare's son. By recounting the story of his eventful life backwards, through his many trials and triumphs, this biography culminates with a fresh examination of the issue of Davenant's paternity. Was his mother the voluptuous and maddening "Dark Lady," and was he Shakespeare's "lovely boy?"

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