Sceptre have published a début novel-in-verse which promises to put an end to one of the greatest literary mysteries, that of whether playwright Christopher Marlowe wrote Shakespeare's plays.
Publishing director Carole Welch bought world rights to The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber from historical fiction specialist Rupert Heath. The book looks at the controversial life and death of Elizabethan poet, spy and heretic Marlowe, and answers the question of whether he died in a tavern brawl in 1593, or whether he lived on and wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare.
Welch described it as "one of the most unusual and exciting débuts to have crossed my desk in years," and said the work was "as vibrant, gripping and clever as a work by Marlowe himself. It's an astonishing ­achievement."
Barber has written three poetry collections, with her latest, Material, published by Anvil in 2008. Her short fiction has been published by Bloomsbury and Serpent's Tail. Infact the Marlowe Papers won the 2011 Hoffman Prize even before it was published this year in 2012. And with signed books already fetching £100 on AbeBooks this is set to be an all time classic.
Each first edition first printing has been signed and doodled by Ros Barber and they are exclusive for Doodled Books collectors!
Book Description
On May 30th, 1593, a celebrated young playwright was killed in a tavern brawl in London. That, at least, was the official version. Now Christopher Marlowe reveals the truth: that his 'death' was an elaborate ruse to avoid being convicted of heresy; that he was spirited across the Channel to live on in lonely exile; that he continued to write plays and poetry, hiding behind the name of a colourless man from Stratford - one William Shakespeare. 

With the grip of a thriller and the emotional force of a sonnet, this remarkable novel in verse gives voice to a man who was brilliant, passionate and mercurial. A cobbler's son who counted nobles among his friends, a spy in the Queen's service, a fickle lover and a declared religious sceptic, he was always courting trouble. 

Memoir, love letter, confession, settling of accounts and a cry for recognition as the creator of some of the most sublime works in the English language, The Marlowe Papers brings Christopher Marlowe and his era to vivid life. Written by a poet and scholar, it is a work of exceptional art, erudition and imagination. 
'The best book I've read for a long time. Truly innovative, truly original, and a powerful poetic journey to another truth. Ros Barber has told a great story, in a fascinating way, so fascinating that she had someone like me gripped to the very end. This really is a joy to read and a true work of art.' (Benjamin Zephaniah )

'This rich and charmingly playful work avoids the potential for whimsy inherent in such an undertaking. The thrill at reimagining the events and era comes through wave after wave in Barber's blank verse.' (Adam O'Riordan, Sunday Telegraph )

'This is effortlessly better stuff than many far more trumpeted poets can produce, even on a good day...The Marlowe Papers is the best read, so far, this year.' (Martin Newell, Sunday Express )

'This terrifically accomplished and enjoyable novel/play/poem, call it what you like, restores one's faith in English fiction.' (Fay Weldon )

'Barber ingeniously weaves the action of the plays and sonnets into her story...The verse is subtle and varied enough never to disturb the ear, and in fact you forget that you're reading poetry at all. This is no bawdy cod-Shakespearean romp.' (Suzi Feay, Financial Times )
'A rare find indeed - searing poetry meets compelling narrative in a historical tour de force that had me ripping through the pages.'
(Robyn Young )

'now that I've reached the end I want to go back and read it all again...Written in Marlowe's voice the reader doesn't need to know his work or that of Shakespeare to enjoy the book and relish the accomplishment of the author...The proof copy I read is already battered with rereading. I will be buying myself a hardback copy when it comes out. Don't buy it on an e-reader, buy a proper copy and hold it lovingly as you read.' ( )

'The Marlowe Papers grips.' (John Sutherland, The Times )

'The Marlowe Papersis a bravura performance: a noir thriller in doublet and hose, illuminated by images as startling as lightning.' (Simon Worrall, author of The Poet and the Murderer )

'this highly ambitious debut makes for an engrossing read...brought to life by smatterings of exquisitely poetic descriptions and turns of phrase worthy of the Bard himself, whoever he was.' (Time Out )
About the Author
Ros Barber is the author of three poetry collections. Her poems have featured in publications that include Poetry ReviewLondon Magazine, the Guardian and Independent on Sunday, and in anthologies published by Faber, Virago and Anvil Press. She has a PhD on Marlowe, and jointly won the Hoffman Prize 2011 for The Marlowe Papers. She lives in Brighton and has four children.
Product details
  • First Edition First Printing
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; Unabridged edition (24 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444737384
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444737387
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4 x 21 cm


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