Sunday, April 20, 2014

So, was Shakespeare a fraud?

Davis author Scott Evans' new novel, "First Folio," is set partially in his hometown. The literary mystery should appeal to fans of "The Da Vinci Code," Evans says. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

March 10, 2011 | Leave Comment

In Scott Evans’ new novel, “First Folio,” priceless handwritten manuscripts reveal that the most famous writer in the world — William Shakespeare — was a fraud, and that the true author of Shakespeare’s iconic plays actually was Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

The book is fiction, and the Bard hasn’t really been officially dethroned. But other than that, and “the fact that Joe (the main character) receives handwritten documents, which don’t exist, all other factual information is well-researched and true,” said Evans, a Davis author.

“There are few samples of Shakespeare’s handwriting, all of which are signatures on legal documents. The handwriting is pretty halting and poor. It doesn’t look like something an experienced writer would produce,” Evans said.

Evans explores this conundrum in “First Folio,” a literary mystery that he says fans of “The Da Vinci Code” will enjoy.

The main character is Joe Conrad, a professor at the fictional Central Lutheran University in Stockton, who lives in Davis. His mentor, Jack Claire, finds what seem to be authentic handwritten manuscripts of Shakespeare’s plays, along with a leather-bound copy of the First Folio, the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays.

Claire mails the documents to Conrad, “who is like a son to Claire,” Evans said. Claire is murdered shortly thereafter, and Conrad, confused as to why the documents were sent to him, seeks the scholarly advice of a retired Central Lutheran University professor, Jonathan “Smitty” Smythe, and a UC Berkeley scholar, Sylvia Williamson.

The script on the documents reveal neat, practiced handwriting — which differs significantly from the few surviving examples of Shakespeare’s handwriting.

Conrad and his colleagues work to authenticate the documents and sleuth out the true author. As they labor over the manuscripts, however, a lethal mercenary tracks them, willing to do anything to obtain the documents.

Evans began writing novels six years ago, when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. He also found himself with a little extra time, as the classes he was teaching at a community college were eliminated due to budget pressures.

“I decided that was the time to do it,” Evans said.

His goal with his novels is to simultaneously entertain and educate.

“I really like the murder mystery genre. I’m trying to make it more literary; more serious,” Evans said. “I want to teach more literature, like Shakespeare, that people may not read on their own.”

For example, in Evans’ first novel, “Tragic Flaws,” the main character borrows an idea from “Hamlet” to ensnare the antagonist of the tale.

“This is my second novel,” Evans said. ”They will be related, but they will also be readable as separate books.”

“Like me, Joe Conrad lives with his family in Davis,” Evans said. Local readers will enjoy the occasional references to real Davis locations: For instance, Conrad lives on 10th Street.

“But the book is also set in places all over the world,” Evans said.

Evans did some globe trotting himself while doing the extensive research the novel required. He had the opportunity to research at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., that Conrad and his colleagues visit. Evans had to go through an application process to be able to spend time there. He viewed items such as Edward de Vere’s Geneva Bible, which proved “very helpful” to his research.

The novel took more than four years to complete. “I had no idea what I was getting into,” Evans said.

Evans consulted 15 books, 20 magazine articles and 6 Shakespeare authorship conferences to fully research the novel. He presented a chapter of “First Folio” at a Houston Shakespeare conference.

Evans’ original plan was to write a novel about Shakespeare concluding that the Bard was the true author of his works. However, as he researched further, Evans came to believe that Shakespeare actually was one of the most unlikely candidates to author works such as “Macbeth” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

“When I started getting into it, it was overwhelming,” Evans said. “I had to pick and choose what worked best for the plot.”

When he is not working on a novel, Evans teaches writing at University of the Pacific in Stockton. He teaches freshman composition, as well as a course on crime, punishment and justice in society. “It’s an interesting, fun class to teach,” Evans said.

“What’s fun is that I get to talk about problems I face,” Evans said. “They know I’m struggling to write well, too.”

Evans also runs a writers’ group and a literary magazine.

“I wake up, brew a cup of coffee and go for a walk,” Evans said. “Then I write, or spend time polishing and editing.”

According to Evans, his regular commute to work has been “really helpful to the creative process.”

“I do a lot of thinking then,” Evans said.

Evans plans to write several more literary mystery novels.

Local residents can meet him at 3 p.m. Sunday at Atria Covell Gardens, 1111 Alvarado Ave. in Davis. Bistro 33, 226 F St., also will host a reading and reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 18, and Evans will be at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 25.

Meet the author

Who: Scott Evans, author of “First Folio”

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Atria Covell Gardens, 1111 Alvarado Ave., Davis


Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    UCD admits record number; 4,284 from abroad

    By Cory Golden | From Page: A1

    Hub of activity: DHS newspaper keeps evolving

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    A springtime ritual

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Tom Adams seeks Davis school board seat

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

    Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Tour renovated YCCC facility Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Tour Davis Waldorf School on Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    The fifth annual Tour de Cluck is soon to be hatched

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Ortiz lawn signs available

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Sign up soon for spring cooking classes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Robb Davis team to rally on Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Steadfast in their support

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Yolo Hospice offers free grief workshops

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sign up for Camp Kesem caterpillar crawl

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Quilters gear up for annual show

    By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A4

    League hosts a series of candidate forums

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    KDVS launches fund drive on Monday

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

    Calling all Scrabble fans

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Hub webpage is seeing traffic increasing

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A8

    Lescroart welcomes all to book-launch party

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A16 | Gallery

    DEVO set to serve up 14th annual Winkler Dinner

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16 | Gallery

    Learn Chinese crafts at I-House

    By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A16

    Preschool open house set at Davis Waldorf

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

    Birch Lane celebrates its 50th anniversary

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

    Hotel/conference center info meeting set

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16



    Take ownership of your health

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

    Keep your baby safe

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Reliving the agony and ecstasy of spring

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

    Road diet? No, city diet!

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

    We’re reveling in our equality

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Vote no; it’s fiscally responsible

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Rick McKee cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

    Core values on campus

    By Our View | From Page: A12

    Bill is an affront to UC Davis ag biotech and local farmers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13

    Don’t want to sit in Fix 50 traffic? Consider alternatives

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13, 1 Comment



    UCD softball shut out by Santa Barbara

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie men shoot 9-under, lead own tourney

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Stars shine in Woody Wilson Classic

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils burn up the track

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD roundup: Aggie baseball swept away by Highlanders

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    A’s score 3 in ninth, rally past Astros 4-3

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6







    Yolo Federal Credit Union gets WISH funds

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    PG&E pays taxes, fees to county, cities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

    Will Davis get an Old Soul?

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9

    Pediatricians, nurse practitioner hired at Woodland Healthcare

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Asian stocks mostly higher after mixed U.S. earnings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    Davis Roots will showcase its graduating startups

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14

    University Honda wins another President’s Award

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

    Dutch Bros. raises $19,000 for girl with leukemia

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery





    Comics: Sunday, April 20, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8