“God is a librarian.” This enchanting thought appears in Chasing Shakespeares when something fortuitous or serendipitous occurs related to books and manuscripts. Joe Roper is a graduate student in Elizabethan studies at Northeastern University. He comes from a small town in Vermont and can’t quite believe how far he’s come. Through his work assisting a couple who have spent their careers chronicling Shakespeare’s life, Joe has the opportunity to catalog a collection of Elizabethan books and manuscripts connected to Mary, Queen of Scots. He discovers a letter that casts doubts on who Shakespeare really was, but is it a forgery, as many of the other items in this collection are? In walks Posy Gould, graduate student at Harvard, who felt that she should have been the one to work on the collection. Posy proposes they go to London to have the letter tested. Posy feels strongly that the man named Shakespeare didn’t write his oeuvre at all. Joe resists, loyal to his mentors and his training. However, the more they research the authorship of the works, the less straightforward Joe finds it.
While the action is set in the present, much of the material pertains to the 16th century. A number of Elizabethans, some famous and some more obscure, play prominent roles through Joe’s research. Those who love books and literary detection will enjoy this book a great deal. Notes, a genealogical table, short biographies, a timeline and other materials are available at a companion website (chasingshakespeares.com).