Campus News

Tasty Books and Elizabethan History

On Sept. 30, the University welcomed critically acclaimed author Andrea Chaplin for the first Literature at Lunch session for the 2015 school year. Chaplin came to the University as part of the Florida Literary Arts Coalition (FLAC) tour, of which Saint Leo has been a member for four years.

“I have been a book editor for years,” said Chaplin. “I’ve edited about 200 books and novels.” Chaplin went on to explain that she has been a book reviewer for many other publications and magazines.

At the session held in TECO Hall in the Donald R. Tapia School of Business Building, Chaplin discussed her novel, The Tutor, and read a few excerpts from the book.

“Most of [Shakespeare’s] life is undocumented,” said Chaplin. “This is often called the ‘lost years of Shakespeare.’ It’s the perfect terrain for fiction writers.”

The Tutor, as Chaplin explained to the audience, is a fictitious account of William Shakespeare becoming a part-time tutor for an equally-fictitious wealthy Catholic family called the de L’Isles while England was under Protestant rule. The novel follows Katharine de L’Isle and her interactions with Shakespeare before he became famous. During that time, Shakespeare was not the playwright many have come to know, but rather a poet. As he is represented in Chaplin’s novel, Shakespeare was quick-minded and sharp-tongued though not any less humorous than he seems in his plays and other writings. In a historical context, The Tutor is set during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign about 100 years following the invention of the printing press and Shakespeare would have also been alive during the Bubonic Plague outbreaks that had swept across Europe.

After she finished reading the excerpts from her novel, Chaplin answered some audience questions. In response to these questions, Chaplin explained that the process of researching and writing The Tutor had not been easy, taking eight years to complete.

“I didn’t start with research,” said Chaplin, “I wanted to get Katharine and Shakespeare’s relationship down first before I did research. Once that was done, I did the research as I went along.”

Following the audience’s questions, some copies of The Tutor were being sold with the opportunity to have Chaplin sign them.

Later that day, Chaplin visited Professor Gianna Russo’s creative writing class to listen to students read parts of their work and to answer any questions they might have had regarding writing. During this question and answer session, Chaplin gave tips to the students to help get their creative juices flowing and to build upon their writing skills for plot and characterization.

The next Literature at Lunch event is going to take place sometime during the spring semester and will feature poet Aja Monet.

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