Charlene Ball holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature and has taught English and women’s studies at colleges and universities. Although she has written nonfiction, reviews and academic articles, writing fiction has always been her first love. She has published fiction and nonfiction in The North Atlantic Review, Concho River Review, The National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Journal and other journals. She is a Fellow of the Hambidge Center for the Arts and held a residency at the Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. She retired from the Women’s Studies Institute (now the Institute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) at Georgia State University in 2009. She lives in Atlanta with her wife: author and bookseller Libby Ware.
Emilia Bassano has four strikes against her: she is poor, beautiful, femal, and intelligent in Elizabethan England. To make matters worse, she comes from a family of secret Jews. When she is raped as a teenager, she knows she probably will not be able to make a good marriage, so she becomes the mistress of a much older nobleman. During this time she falls in love with poet/player William Shakespeare, and they have a brief, passionate relationship—but when the plague comes to England, the nobleman abandons her, leaving her pregnant and without financial security.