“There are few living writers who can take us back in time so assuredly, with such sensual density, through such gorgeous sentences. Joseph O’Connor is a wonder, and Shadowplay is a triumph.”—Peter Carey
From Joseph O’Connor, author of the New York Times best-selling novel The Star of the Sea, comes an unforgettable and atmospheric story of love, theater, art, and ambition.
Set in the late-Victorian world of the London theater, Shadowplay tells the story of the first superstar thespian, the era’s greatest Shakespearian actor, and a young man who would go to write the most iconic and best-selling horror novel of all time.
Theater impresario Henry Irving was the world’s first superstar actor, a showman extraordinaire and a mesmerizing actor whose impact on popular entertainment invites comparisons to PT Barnum. When Irving decides to open his own London theater with the goal of making it the greatest playhouse on earth, he hires as his assistant a young Dublin clerk harboring literary ambitions by the name of Abraham Stoker. Irving and Stoker both fall under the spell of Ellen Terry, a dazzlingly talented actress, known to all as a proto-feminist and the greatest Shakespearian actress of her day.
Stoker’s extraordinary experiences at the Lyceum, his tempestuous relationship with Irving himself, and the bittersweet closeness he finds with Ellen Terry, inspires him to write a novel that will become, after his death, the most famous and widely read supernatural tale ever published.
Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. He is the author of nine novels, two collections of short stories, and a number of bestselling works of non-fiction. He has also written film scripts and radio and stage-plays. His novel Star of the Sea was an international bestseller, selling more than a million copies and being published in 38 languages. It won France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, the Irish Post Award for Fiction, the Nielsen Bookscan Golden Book Award, an American Library Association Award, the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Hall of Fame Award, and the Prix Litteraire Zepter for European Novel of the Year. In 2009 he was the Harman Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Baruch College, City University of New York. He holds an honorary Doctorate in Literature from University College Dublin, and received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2012. He is the Inaugural Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.