“Sweeping you away with its vivid, poetical writing, Dark Lady
is a novel about a brilliant Elizabethan woman, a musician, commoner, and secret Jew who was barred from working as a musician because of her sex. Emilia Bassano Lanyer loves three very different men: the aging Lord Hunsdon who treasures her, the young Shakespeare who enchants her, and the man she marries, musician and soldier Lanyer. Her writing arises from her experience as a gifted woman in a world ruled by men. Dark Lady
is a beautifully drawn portrait of an exceptional woman in a time of plague, war, and political danger.”
—Stephanie Cowell, author of The Players, Claude and Camille
, and Marrying Mozart
"Emilia Bassano Lanyer emerges in this sweeping historical novel as more than the elusive Dark Lady of William Shakespeare's sonnets. She is an artist in her own right, mysterious indeed but also strong, resourceful, and intelligent enough to maneuver her way through a turbulent, dangerous world. Politics and poetry collide in this suspenseful tale of love, lust, and literature in Elizabethan England."
—Sarah Kennedy, author of The Altarpiece
“This isn’t a book about court intrigue so much as the simpler human desire for self-expression, and the limits placed upon that. Accompanied by an engaging cast of secondary characters, Emilia is brought to appealingly vivid life and the book teems with the sights, sounds and scents of Tudor England. It’s so hard to make Shakespeare feel like just another character in a book: the man has a historical aura that can completely derail a scene. But Ball manages, and the words she puts in his mouth are convincingly playful and fanciful. It’s a well-written, engaging read and some of the prose is so beautifully crafted that you get a truly sensory appreciation for the setting.”
—The Idle Woman
About the Author
Charlene Ball holds a PhD in comparative literature and has taught English and women’s studies at colleges and universities. Although she has written nonfiction, reviews, and academic articles, writing fiction has always been her first love. She has published fiction and nonfiction in The North Atlantic Review, Concho River Review, The NWSA Journal,
and other journals. She has reviewed theater and written articles on the arts for Atlanta papers. She is a Fellow of the Hambidge Center for the Arts and held a residency at the Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. She attends fiction workshops by Carol Lee Lorenzo, and she belongs to a writers’ group that she helped found. She retired from the Women’s Studies Institute (now the Institute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) at Georgia State University in 2009 and has been busier than ever with writing and bookselling. She also volunteers with her congregation and other social justice groups. She and her wife, Libby Ware, an author and bookseller, were married in May 2016.