I’ve presented several somewhat unorthodox Marlowe-related papers at academic conferences over the last three years, but yesterday was my first appearance at the conference of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust. Though I’m an old hand at presenting my work in public, and thoroughly enjoy the opportunity of doing so (whether reading poetry or giving a talk), it was a strangely nerve-wracking event. The last time I felt so jittery in the run-up to speaking in public was at the Barbican ten years ago. In the delivery, I don’t suppose my nerves were obvious to anyone except myself, and the handful of people who spent the tea-break in the lecture hall, and watched me enter and leave three times to rearrange the laptop and notes on the lectern. Once I began, and the first joke got a laugh, it was easy to ride on the energy of an audience who were hoping to be entertained and engaged.
When I called home afterwards to report that I got plenty of laughs, my husband was worried. Like many, he assumes that such a gathering must be deeply earnest and everyone who presents imbued with a sense of their own rightness and everyone else’s wrongness. Well, one or two were. But generally there was an air of