Raphael Sóne’s novel, an early draft of which was blogged on this site in 2018, is being prepared for publication.
Set for the most part in Elizabethan England, THE CORISCO CONSPIRACY is a historical novel of diaspora Africa narrated by none other than the Bard of Avon. The bard’s best friend and ghostwriter is an African philologist. His second wife, the hitherto unidentified Dark Lady of the Sonnets, is a native of Corisco (an island in present-day Equatorial Guinea). And two of the novel’s other principal characters are a London couple of Malian descent.
Although they never formally declared war against each other, England and Spain were in conflict for more than half of the forty-something years that Elizabeth the First sat uneasily on the English throne and Philip the Second menacingly wielded the Spanish sceptre. For twenty of those years, from 1585 to 1605, the man whose name would later become a synonym for the word “English” was employed by Spain as a Roman Catholic counter intelligence operative. THE CORISCO CONSPIRACY is his gripping first-hand account (in crystal clear prose) of the momentous events that led up to the Gunpowder Plot, of which, it turns out, he was the mastermind.
April 1585: Jesuit messenger William Shakespeare, a recusant firebrand, arrives in Rome from London expecting to meet his best friend, a budding playwright with whom he wishes to enter into a partnership in the entertainment industry. But his friend left Rome about one month earlier to go and study for a doctorate in philology at the University of Salamanca in Spain. Before he decides whether to proceed to Salamanca or return to London, another messenger, a certain Guy Fawkes, brings him new directives from his employer: the Bishop of Winchester, a crypto-Catholic prelate of the Church of England. As instructed by His Excellency, William travels to the West African island city of Corisco in the Kingdom of Malabo. There he meets the woman and some of the men with whom, after suffering religious discrimination for over two decades, he contrives the most diabolical assassination plot in British history.
Honorary Patron of Muspa (the Musketman Shakespeare Poetry Award), Musketman Shakespeare is the darling of social media. He is well-liked on Facebook and Instagram. Set up in 2017, his blog was visited over 25,000 times within the first three years of its being established. As a “Jesuit messenger at Roman Catholic Church”, he has thousands of connections on LinkedIn – prominent religious leaders among them. And, as the “Mastermind of the Gunpowder Plot”, he is followed on Twitter by swarms of admirers, a good number of whom work for the Vatican.
Raphael Sóne writes the Musketman Shakespeare blog. He is a Cameroonian Canadian translator, Shakespeare lover and medievalist Africanist. THE CORISCO CONSPIRACY is his first novel. It was originally entitled THE WAR MEMOIRS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.
When not in the Great White North or somewhere in the Dark Continent, Mr. Sóne divides his time between Mexico and Colombia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org