The Precise Man

I’ve recently completed – after five drafts – The Precise Man, a novel of 1604 London.

The two-sentence summary: Ned Tilney, the humorless Master of the Revels, is accused of both treachery and murder. His only hope: a man who despises him, who mocks him openly, and who may have set him up, Will Shakespeare. 

Edmund Tilney is a man besieged. The walls he has erected around his life are crumbling. His wife is dead. Unable to afford his official quarters, he works in a smoky tavern. The manipulative Edward de Vere, having bought Tilney’s debt, is pressuring him to approve a work aimed squarely at the new king, who is about to strip Tilney of his post. Will mocks him at every turn, even stealing a manuscript left in Tilney’s care. And the tavern’s beautiful owner expects him to track down the killer of her serving-woman, one more task for which he is both unprepared and inept.

Love. Murder. Revenge. The king. The theater. William Shakespeare. Measure for Measure. All in here. Or really, all in the British Library, because that’s where I found Ned Tilney’s diary. (His handwriting was just awful, by the way. I don’t think my eyes will ever recover.) I figured he wouldn’t mind, being dead 413 years, so I transcribed it, did some light editing and annotating, and plan to publish it.

Here are the first four chapters, plus the introduction. I hope you find it as much fun to read as I found the research.*

*Yeah, nah, it’s all fiction. Including the scholarly annotations. (I don’t actually have a Ph.D., either.) But it is based on real people and real events, starting with Ned Tilney. (I did research Tilney at the British Library last year. I did not find his diary.)