Maggie O’Farrell | 'It’s a story about a boy who has been consigned to a literary footnote. I wanted to give him a voice'

Maggie O’Farrell | 'It’s a story about a boy who has been consigned to a literary footnote. I wanted to give him a voice'

In order to trace the roots of Maggie O’Farrell’s eagerly awaited new novel, one has to travel back 30 years or so, to a chilly Scottish classroom where an English teacher named Mr Henderson was preparing to teach “Hamlet”. He told his class that Shakespeare had a son called Hamnet, who died several years before the play was written. Now, sitting in a warm café in north London, O’Farrell remembers her younger self being immediately struck by this, wondering what it meant for a father to name a tragic hero after his dead son.

A few years later, reading English at Cambridge, she discovered t...

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