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NewsMar 5, 2020

Shakespeare documentarian speaks at National Press Club

Faculty filmmaker Cheryl Eagan-Donovan discusses craft, controversial theory

Portraits of William Shakespeare and Edward De Vere
Above (from left): William Shakespeare and Edward De Vere

Editor's note: Since the publication of this article, SXSW was canceled due to concerns about the Coronavirus.

When, in 1997, Cheryl Eagan-Donovan read J. Thomas Looney’s “Shakespeare Identified,” a book questioning the authorship of William Shakespeare’s work, she was convinced that the world’s most famous playwright was actually a wealthy playboy named Edward De Vere. In tandem with pursuing a career in filmmaking, Eagan-Donovan pursued the controversial authorship question, debuting her documentary on De Vere, “Nothing Is Truer Than Truth,” in 2018.

This month, the MFA in Creative Writing graduate and filmmaker is traversing the country to speak about De Vere and her craft at two prestigious locations: The National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

The former was part of the March 4 Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship’s “Shakespeare” Identified Centennial Symposium and focused on Looney’s scholarship 100 years after the book’s initial publication.

Cheryl Eagan-Donovan standing outside
Cheryl Eagan-Donovan

“The event at the National Press Club is a great opportunity to introduce audiences to the significance of the book ‘Shakespeare Identified’ and the great work currently being done by scholars around the world to learn more about De Vere's life and work and the connection to the Shakespeare plays and poems,” says Eagan-Donovan, an adjunct writing professor at Lesley.

She was joined by authors and scholars in a panel moderated by retired Washington Post journalist and National Press Foundation President Emeritus Bob Meyers.

At her fourth trip to SXSW next week, Eagan-Donovan will focus less on the Bard and more on her filmmaking background, as a screenwriting mentor at the film festival and conference.

“I'm most excited about the opportunity to help attendees at the festival take their scripts to the next level, whether that is a next draft, an effective pitch, or a plan to connect with others in the industry,” she says. “As a writer and a teacher, I feel that it is really important to look at what makes a great writer: access to books, imitation of the masters, the ability to adapt one's life experience, and relentless revision.”

Back at Lesley, Eagan-Donovan will continue to teach English, writing and film with courses on gender, identity and sexuality in literature, theater and film and world drama.

Hear more about Eagan-Donovan’s Edward De Vere theory and her documentary on our podcast.