The Shakespeare Stealer
March 20, 2020
In the late Elizabethan era, a fourteen-year-old orphan known only by his nickname, Widge, has learned shorthand, a method of rapid writing by means of abbreviations and symbols, from his previous master, a preacher who wants Widge to steal other preachers' sermons. Bass, his new master, wants to use Widge's skill to transcribe William Shakespeare's Hamlet before Shakespeare prints it. Widge sets off to London with Falconer, a ruthless man whom Bass assigns to ensure Widge succeeds. Hamlet's performance so enraptures Widge that he forgets part of his assignment, and when he returns for a second try, his notebook is stolen. Widge eventually settles into the acting troupe by posing as a hopeful player, and The Lord Chamberlain's Men accepts him. For the first time, Widge feels part of a real family. But it's hard for him knowing his duty is to not be a part of this family but to steal from them. Falconer continues to press Widge to steal the play, resulting in a constant cat and mouse chase between them. After Falconer, who turned out to be Bass in disguise, dies in a duel with The Lord Chamberlain's Men shareholder Robert Armin, Widge remains at The Globe to work toward his dream of being a player.
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