Muse 2021: Small Victories Series with Michael Blanding

Thank you all for attending the Muse and the Marketplace 2021! This year's conference took the form of a virtual enhanced writing residency that took place Wednesday, April 21st - Sunday, April 25th. Up next are our new Premium Workshops and the Manuscript Marttaking place Wednesday, April 28th - Sunday, May 2nd.


This year's conference theme is "Small Victories." We all know what the "big" victories are (landing an agent, snagging a book deal, or getting a flashy award), but this year we aim to celebrate the equally important, tiny, and often unseen victories of our writing lives. In anticipation of the conference, we've asked Muse 2021 presenting authors to describe one small victory they've had as a writer that nobody knows about. Our next presenter in the series is Michael Blanding author of North by Shakespeare.



I’ve always loved libraries.

Walking into the school library when I was young, I got a thrill from the rows of spines on the shelves, promising passport to other worlds and times. As a non-fiction author, I wrote a book The Map Thief, about a thief of antiquarian maps from rare-book libraries. Reporting the book, I relished spending hours in libraries myself, holding centuries-old maps in my hands as I imagined the worlds of their creators.

For my most recent book, North by Shakespeare: A Rogue Scholar’s Quest for the Truth Behind the Bard’s Work, I followed a self-taught scholar in his attempts to prove Shakespeare used lost plays by Elizabethan courtier Sir Thomas North as sources for his works. Once again, I conducted research in libraries, viewing documents signed by Henry VIII in the UK National Archives, and examining archival documents at the British Library in London and the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford.

As my publication date neared, I searched online for mention of my book, and up popped a reference on the site WorldCat, which compiles library holdings from around the world.

Not only was my book already listed at the Library of Congress and other libraries, but it had also been filed under an entirely new category: “Shakespeare, William – 1564-1616 – Authorship – North theory.” It filled me with emotion to think my book had created a category of its own, perhaps to be filled with other books in the future, enshrined in the library long after I’m gone.



Michael Blanding is a Boston-based investigative journalist, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, WIRED, Slate, The Boston Globe, Boston magazine, and other publications. He is the author of North by Shakespeare: A Rogue Scholar’s Quest for the Truth Behind the Bard's Work (2021) and The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps (2014), which was a New York Times bestseller and an NPR Book of the Year. A former senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Harvard Kennedy School, he has taught writing at Tufts University, Emerson College, and GrubStreet.



Again, thank you all for attending the Muse and the Marketplace 2021! Michael's recorded session will be available soon. The last day to register for the conference was April 26th but conference attendees will have access to all recorded sessions until June 25th.

About the Author See other articles by Michael Blanding
by Michael Blanding

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