Friday, April 24, 2015

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 |

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



  • Recent Posts

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

  • .


    Water and power have a troubling interdependency

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    New design submitted for conference center

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Los Angeles march to commemorate Armenian killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Hostage deaths a reminder of risk of ‘deadly mistakes’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Bob Dunning: Fairness is an afterthought for them

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Beginning tai chi classes start May 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    College Night set April 30 at DHS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Tour of co-ops precedes Sacramento conference

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    School board hears report on health services

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

    Mamajowali will perform at benefit house concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Explorit: Celebrate International Astronomy Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Learn basics of composting in Woodland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Take a peek at region’s past at Tremont Mite Society’s social

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    BeerFest expands to include cider

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Winkler Dinner raises funds for enology, viticulture activities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Raptor Center welcomes visitors at May 2 open house

    By Trina Wood | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Mapping where human action is causing earthquakes

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A9

    Hummingbird health: Appreciating the little things

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A12 | Gallery



    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    The fight for gender pay equity

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

    Thanks for supporting the arts

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Bike Swap another success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Drink is a tasteless insult

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    It’s a depressing beat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5



    Reeling Blue Devils stop skid against Sheldon

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie Spring Game environment will up the gridiron fun factor

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Rare DHS track loss still full of highlights

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Lehner talks about the UCD student-athlete experience

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    DYSA roundup: Lester, Osborne lead Storm over Dixon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Lady Demons’ fundraiser a smash hit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Pro baseball roundup: River Cats lose their fourth straight

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B12





    ‘Ex Machina': The perils of playing God

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Ceramicist works will be featured at The Artery

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery



    Chamber expands Korean sister-city opportunities

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Car Care: Tips for buying your first ATV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    Subaru goes rear-wheel drive with sporty BRZ coupe

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B7 | Gallery





    Comics: Friday, April 24, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5