Jodi Picoult

By Any Other Name

A captivating new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Wish You Were Here and co-author of Mad Honey.

Publication dates:
US/CA/AU/NZ - August 20, 2024
UK - October 10, 2024

Preorder your copy now!

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Canada


And… preorder BY ANY OTHER NAME in these countries:

By Any Other Name

Two women, centuries apart—one of whom is the real author of Shakespeare’s plays—are forced to hide behind another name to make their voice heard.

Synopsis

In 1581, Emilia Bassano—like most young women of her day—is allowed no voice of her own. But as the Lord Chamberlain’s mistress, she has access to all theater in England, and finds a way to bring her work to the stage secretly. And yet, creating some of the world’s greatest dramatic masterpieces comes at great cost: by paying a man for the use of his name, she will write her own out of history.

In the present, playwright Melina Green has just written a new work inspired by the life of her Elizabethan ancestor Emilia Bassano. Although the challenges are different four hundred years later, the playing field is still not level for women in theater. Would Melina—like Emilia—be willing to forfeit her credit as author, just for a chance to see her work performed?

Told in intertwining narratives, this sweeping tale of ambition, courage, and desire asks what price each woman is willing to pay to see their work live on—even if it means they will be forgotten.

Praise for By Any Other Name

Perennial best-seller Picoult, who has tackled such heady subjects as same-sex marriage, abortion, and racism, takes on another hot-button topic sure to ignite controversy and conversation, the question of Shakespearean authorship. In this dual timeline tale, struggling playwright Melina Green has written a play about her ancestor Emilia Bassano, who she believes really penned many of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Frustrated with sexism in the New York theater scene in 2023, Melina pushes her Black male friend Andre, also a playwright, to claim credit for her work when a lauded but arrogant critic expresses interest in getting the play produced. This leads to a Shakespearean—or should it be Bassanian?—comedy of errors. At the same time, Picoult tells Emilia’s story. Forced to become a courtesan at 13, she eventually falls in love with a handsome nobleman, but when she gets pregnant, she’s married off to a brutal man and forced to find a way to earn a living penning poems and plays for a dissolute actor, namely, William Shakespeare. Some readers will undoubtedly quibble with Picoult’s conclusions about the Bard, but they’ll just as assuredly find themselves thoroughly engaged with the struggles of Emilia, Melina, and Andre as writers with the deck stacked against them in this timely and affecting tale. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Picoult’s many, many fans will pounce on her latest incisive, pot- stirring tale, while the Shakepearean theme will attract even more readers.

YA: Teens reading Shakespeare in class will be intrigued by Picoult’s premise and the exploration of theater-world sexism and racism.
Kristine Huntley, Booklist

By Any Other Name is named ELLE Magazine’s “Best New Books to Read This Summer”

Where to read it:
Lounging on a blanket before a Shakespeare in the Park production.
What it’s about:
The iconic Jodi Picoult (of My Sister’s Keeper, Small Great Things, A Spark of Light, and many more) travels to 1581 to rub shoulders with Shakespeare—or, anyway, the woman behind his plays. Told via dual timelines, By Any Other Name introduces readers to Emilia Bassano, whose work bears not her own name but William Shakespeare’s, and the modern Melina Green, a descendant of Bassano’s. Both are playwrights; both must confront the sexism of a theater world that diminishes the work of women, despite the centuries between them. As fans have come to expect from Picoult, this is a inspiring work of feminist literature inspired by real historical accounts.
Who was Shakespeare?
Move over, Earl of Oxford and Francis Bacon: There’s another contender for the true author of plays attributed to the bard of Stratford—Emilia Bassano, a clever, outspoken, educated woman who takes center stage in Picoult’s spirited novel. Of Italian heritage, from a family of court musicians, Emilia was a hidden Jew and the courtesan of a much older nobleman who vetted plays to be performed for Queen Elizabeth. She was well traveled—unlike Shakespeare, she visited Italy and Denmark, where, Picoult imagines, she may have met Rosencrantz and Guildenstern—and was familiar with court intrigue and English law. “Every gap in Shakespeare’s life or knowledge that has had to be explained away by scholars, she somehow fills,” Picoult writes. Encouraged by her lover, Emilia wrote plays and poetry, but 16th-century England was not ready for a female writer. Picoult interweaves Emilia’s story with that of her descendant Melina Green, an aspiring playwright, who encounters the same sexist barriers to making herself heard that Emilia faced. In alternating chapters, Picoult follows Melina’s frustrated efforts to get a play produced—a play about Emilia, who Melina is certain sold her work to Shakespeare. Melina’s play, By Any Other Name, “wasn’t meant to be a fiction; it was meant to be the resurrection of an erasure.” Picoult creates a richly detailed portrait of daily life in Elizabethan England, from sumptuous castles to seedy hovels… It’s Emilia’s story, and Picoult lovingly brings her to life.

A vibrant tale of a remarkable woman.
Kirkus

Coming October 10 in the UK…

By Any Other Name - Coming October 10 in the UK

What if the greatest works of literature were a fraud?

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1581
Emilia Bassano is allowed no voice of her own, but finds a way to bring her work to the stage secretly. Yet by paying a man for the use of his name, she will write her own out of history. His name? William Shakespeare . . .

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NOW
Playwright Melina Green is fed up of never seeing her shows make the stage. Even in the 21st century it appears a woman’s voice is worth less than a man’s. So Melina takes a lesson from history. And makes a bargain with a man . . . Women have long been written out of history, but what if they held the pen all along?

And… just for fun, watch Shakespeare reveal Jodi’s upcoming novel, BY ANY OTHER NAME:

At the Globe Theater


In Leicester Square