In November 1596, a countess signed a document that would nearly destroy the career of William Shakespeare. Who was this woman who played such an instrumental, yet little known, role in Shakespeare's life? Never far from controversy when she was alive—she sparked numerous riots and indulged in acts of bribery, breaking-and-entering, and kidnapping—Lady Elizabeth Russell has been edited out of public memory, yet the chain of events she set in motion would make Shakespeare the legendary figure we all know today. Lady Elizabeth Russell’s extraordinary life made her one of the most formidable women of the Renaissance. The daughter of King Edward VI’s tutor, she blazed a trail across Elizabethan England as an intellectual and radical Protestant. And, in November 1596, she became the leader of a movement aimed at destroying the career of William Shakespeare—a plot that resulted in the closure of the Blackfriars Theatre but the construction, instead, of the Globe. Providing new pieces to this puzzle, Chris Laoutaris's rousing history reveals for the first time this startling battle against Shakespeare and the Lord Chamberlain's Men.
Dr. Chris Laoutaris is a Lecturer and Birmingham Fellow at The Shakespeare Institute in Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-Upon-Avon. Before that he was a long-standing Lecturer and Renaissance Literature Course Convenor at University College London, where he also completed his PhD. His most recent publication, Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize and was listed as one of the Telegraph’s 'Best Books of 2014.' His recent media appearances and special events include BBC Radio London, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National, and Newstalk Radio Dublin, and lectures for the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse, in association with the National Gallery of Scotland. As well as being recently commissioned as a contributor to Cambridge University’s Cambridge Guide to Shakespeare’s First Folio, Laoutaris has written for the Financial Times and Sunday Express. He is currently working on a project for the Shakespeare Institute called "Team Shakespeare: The Men who Created the Shakespeare Legacy."