'My Stratford friend' tells the story of Tom Wickham; A stable boy and son of a livery steward, who's mother dies during his birth. Mary Shakespeare, feeding a new-born William, brings her free breast to the rescue, thus precipitating a lifelong connection. In the home of the Shakespeares, next door to their glove shop, young Tom is kindly included when a beguiling young maid called Bod, teaches Will to read and write. She also introduces them to her own special world of fairies and make-believe. Tom meets their wider family, one of whom is Johnny Somerville and Will's favourite cousin. He introduces Will to the poetry of Ovid, and, takes him to the Coventry mystery plays. Johnny knows Will has a gift and pressures his parents to get him into school. However, Tom observes that though learned and very funny, Johnny drinks and his outspoken views are dangerous. Tom works with his father at the livery yard owned by the Protestant and fiercely loyal Sir Thomas Lucy. At school, whilst performing in a play, the ten year-old Will beguiles an adolescent Anne Hathaway and ignites a long journey of silent wooing. The livery is a small world, but crucially, the hub of Stratford. Tom not only sees the Shakespeares have avaricious enemies, but also that Wills gift has not gone un-noticed among the more seditious circles of influence. As the State tightens its grip on dissent, certain conformists take advantage. Tom is genuinely saddened when the Shakespeares encounter financial strife and Will is taken out of school. John Shakespeare, a merchant with little use for a poets way of life, pushes his son to take up the family business. Will desires a different path but finds it hard to break free from family pressure. Despite struggling to move his own life on, Tom uses all his limited resources to help his friend find the life for which he feels he is destined. Tom's efforts pay off; Will is engaged by the de Hoghton family as the children's tutor and during that time he devours their library. The de Hoghton's also employ the equus talents of Tom, revealing to him the arcane world of money politics and subversion. Over the course of a glorious summer, a terrifying winter and a precipitous spring, the two seventeen-year-olds friendship matures into a bond that will see them far into their future. Against a back drop of a burning Stratford, Catholic celebrations and religious executions, Tom and Will, discard their virginity, become intoxicated on wild mushrooms, find lovers, lose lovers, go absent in London and even confront the Queens most savage enforcer head on. Tom witnesses Will's gift for poetry burgeon. He watches it feed Anne's love, entwining the two like honeysuckle into the Elm. His steadfast presence on hand to protect them both when their love blossoms and scatters its perfume over the greatest love story never told. Great love brings great pain. Will, now young father and passionate poet, is devastated by the execution of the subversive Edmund Campion. However, he becomes perilously enraged when Sir Thomas Lucy arrests beloved Johnny Somerville. In an instant Anne thrusts Tom into a situation where, before Shakespeare pens a single play, only he can save his inestimable Stratford friend from the gallows.
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|Size: ||2.6 MB|
|Publisher: ||Publicious Self-Publishing|
|Date published: || 2014|
|ISBN: ||9780992592219 (DRM-EPUB)|
|Read Aloud: ||not allowed|