Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor

1. First lines. 2. Published 2019 Penguin Random House. 3. Sir Henry Irving 1899 [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 4. Portrait of Ellen Terry (Barraud, ca. 1887) [CC BY-SA 2.0] via flickr Changes: Colour & background removed; cropped 5. Bram Stoker [Public Domain] via Wikimedia
A story of theatrics with Gothic elements – melodrama; ghostly tales; fear; nightmares and a villain or two.

Ellen Terry (1847-1928), Henry Irving (1838-1905) and Bram Stoker (1874-1912) are real people, and this novel uses historical material to recreate their relationship. Henry Irving and Ellen Terry were both actors, and Bram Stoker was theatre manager of the Lyceum Theatre, owned by Irving in the West End.

“There are men whom it is important not to take the slightest notice of when they’re talking, if it’s after ten o’clock at night and they’ve had a glass of beer. Harry was one such mammal.”

“… the best acting at a First Night is never on the stage. It’s always at the party afterwards.”

~Quotes from “Shadowplay” by Joseph O’Connor
  • The Guardian: “All the wildness, wit and passion don’t come without a price in Shadowplay, any more than in life. As the Victorian era shifts into the new century, what has been gothic and thrilling becomes grotesque in the light of modernity. Never has that reputedly gilded era seemed so pale or flat. As much as this is a hugely entertaining book about the grand scope of friendship and love, it is also, movingly – at times, agonisingly – a story of transience, loss and true loyalty.”
  • Publishers Weekly: “This novel blows the dust off its Victorian trappings and brings them to scintillating life.”

Historical note: Bram Stoker (1874-1912) is the author of the well-known story “Dracula” which he wrote in 1897 whilst working at the Lyceum Theatre. Both Ellen Terry and Henry Irving were recipients of British Empire honours – Ellen with a damehood, and Henry with a knighthood.

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