Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Researching Shakespeare in Stratford

I've been in this lovely cottage this week, researching Shakespeare's home life in Stratford upon Avon for the second book in my Tudor trilogy, written under the name Victoria Lamb.

I'm also writing that book at the same time and researching 'on the hoof', as it were, which is the best way to do it with such complicated historicals. It may seem easier to do all the research beforehand and then start writing. But that tends to make people research the spirit out of a book, procrastinate endlessly - just one more trip to the library! - and never begin the writing itself.

It's also a massively inefficient method for a novelist.

This is because you never know precisely what detail you may need until you start writing a scene and hit a snag - what soap would a Tudor lady have used in her bath? (Castille scented soap); how old was Kit Marlowe in the summer of 1586? (he was 22 that year) - at which point you would turn naturally to a book at your elbow or the internet. So I'm both researching and writing this week.  

Although I love being here in Stratford upon Avon, with its quaint narrow streets and distinctive black and white half-timbered houses, my favourite topics for research so far have been the Tudor spy network and the brave new world of London theatres. The theatre in particular is a fascinating area for research, being a popular entertainment that was just beginning to expand in the late 1580s, though still dogged by plagues, repressive laws, and a dearth of good writers.

His Dark Lady - the second book in my Victoria Lamb Tudor trilogy - is due on my editor's desk on October 1st.

There's still quite a mountain to climb, even with the help of this stay in Stratford. Will I make it?
You can also follow my Tudor-writing progress on Twitter, where I am @VictoriaLamb1

1 comment:

Poetry Pleases! said...

Dear Jane

Good luck! It's lucky that you're the sort of person who seems to thrive on pressure. When I used to teach EFL summer schools, Stratford was one of the excursions. The trick was to lose a coach-load of students as quickly as possible and then head for the nearest pub. You probably wouldn't be able to get away with it these days!

Best wishes from Simon