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Alumnus work chosen best self-published book of 2008

By Kelly Foss | March 3, 2010

A book written by a Memorial alumnus has turned heads not only because of the theory it contains, but because it was chosen as the best self-published book of 2008.

Marlowe’s Ghost: The Blacklisting of the Man who was Shakespeare, explores the possibility that persecution of a writer who dared to question authority may have led to the greatest literary cover-up of all time.

Daryl Pinksen holds a B.Sc. (Physics), BA (English) and B.Ed. and has completed a master's degree in science education, all from Memorial University. His first teaching job at Prince of Wales Collegiate turned into a full-time job and he has been there ever since.

But it was a documentary by Michael Rubbo, Much Ado About Something (2002), that questioned the true authorship of the Shakespeare plays and sonnets that really caught his attention. The documentary investigated the theory that the works of Shakespeare were actually written by Christopher Marlowe, an idea that Mr. Pinksen had not heard before, but immediately began researching.

“I would ask other people with English degrees about it, but they were very resistant to the idea,” Mr. Pinksen said. “If I had been able to engage them in conversations about it I don’t think I would have written the book. But there was so much opposition to even entertaining the question, it just whetted my curiosity.”

His research led to a paper on the history of sonnets scholarship and the paradigm shift of researchers believing the sonnets were autobiographical to believing they were fictional.

“A lot of biographical research had been done on Shakespeare and one focus was finding linkages between things going on in his life and the events and people that were being discussed in the sonnets,” explained Mr. Pinksen. “As more autobiographical information came out it became apparent that what they were looking for was not there. They started turning away from that and decided the sonnets were fiction because they didn’t conform to anything they could find in his life.

“The counterpoint is that when what you’re looking for is the only thing that is missing, that is evidence. If you find nothing, that proves nothing, but if you find everything except what you’re looking for, then that absence is significant.”

His original paper led to another larger paper for his master’s program and the bulk of that work became the core of his book, Marlowe’s Ghost. After self-publishing the book with iUniverse in 2008, Mr. Pinksen was looking for ways to promote it and in April of 2009 he entered a Writer’s Digest competition for self-published authors. In October, he was amazed to hear he was selected the grand prize winner.

“I was really taken aback by it,” he said. “I was just hoping for a mention, any kind of mention, which would be confirmation that someone in authority had read the book and said ‘this is not bad.’”

The organization will now submit copies of the book, endorsed with their stamp of approval as the best self-published book of 2008, to major newspapers across the United States and Canada.

He credits his access to the Queen Elizabeth II Library at Memorial University as being invaluable to the process of writing his book.