In the heart of Elizabethan England, Richard Shakespeare dreams of a glittering career in one of the London playhouses, a world dominated by his older brother, William. But he is a penniless actor, making ends meet through a combination of a beautiful face, petty theft and a silver tongue. Increasingly estranged from his brother as William’s star rises, Richard’s onetime gratitude is souring and he is sorely tempted to abandon family loyalty.
So when a priceless manuscript goes missing, suspicion falls upon Richard, forcing onto a perilous path through a bawdy and frequently brutal London. Entangles in a high-stakes game of duplicity and betrayal which threatens not only his career and potential fortune, but also the lives of his fellow players, Richard has to call on all he has now learned from the brightest stages and the darkest alleyways of the city. To avoid the gallows, he must play the role of a lifetime …
Fools and Mortals is a richly portrayed tour de force with all Bernard Cornwell’s hallmark storytelling and a remarkable cast of characters: you walk the streets, explore the palaces, experience the scandals, rivalries and fierce ambitions, and stand side-by-side with the men and women of Elizabethan London.
About the author
Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex and worked for the BBC for eleven years before meeting Judy, his American wife. Denied an American work permit he wrote a novel instead and has been writing ever since. He and Judy divide their time between Cape Cod and Charleston, South Carolina.
‘A cracking novel … the atmosphere and intrigues of this dangerous time are vividly realised. A smash hit’ The Times
‘Fools and Mortals is a delight. Witty and knowledgeable in its evocation of Shakespearean London … highly enjoyable’ BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE
‘Cornwell not only succeeds in creating an engaging story, but also in celebrating the difficulties and delights, at any time in history, of putting on a show.’ THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘Cornwell leads us effortlessly through palaces and playhouses with the skill of a master storyteller who loves this period of history.’ DAILY EXPRESS
‘With all the vivid history that is his trademark, Bernard Cornwell transports the readers to the playhouses, backstreets and palaces of Shakespeare’s London with added depth and compassion, and a likeable hero.’ Philippa Gregory
‘Story and characters crackle off the page as do the stink and violence of Elizabethan London. The author of the Sharpe and Last Kingdom bestsellers has pulled off a surprise for his readers — and a terrific one at that.’ Elizabeth Buchan, DAILY MAIL
The Times Saturday Review Book of the Month
‘Cornwell is an enthusiastic amateur dramatist. His portrayal of the actors’ rivalries and superstitions is sharp and often funny. His combination of wit, adventure and deft characterisation is a triumphant departure from his usual territory.’ THE TIMES
Praise for Bernard Cornwell:
‘Strong narrative, vigourous action and striking characterisation, Cornwell remains king of the territory he has staked out as his own’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘Cornwell draws a fascinating picture of England as it might have been before anything like England existed’ THE TIMES
‘He’s called a master storyteller. Really he’s cleverer than that’ TELEGRAPH
‘A reminder of just how good a writer he is’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘Nobody in the world does this better than Cornwell’ Lee Child