Posted on August 31, 2022 at 2:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

How do you follow up a novel like Hamnet?

You continue working on the "stories written in white" – that is, the untold tales — says novelist Maggie O’Farrell.

O'Farrell had previously written several commercially successful novels before 2020's Hamnet, which imagined the life of William Shakespeare's wife leading up to and including the premature death of the couple's son.

But that novel launched her into an entirely new category: that of award-nominated and -winning writer.

To be precise, Hamnet received the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction, the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the 2021 British Book Award for Fiction, and the 2020 Waterstones Book of the Year.

Fortunately, she'd already had the idea for The Marriage Portrait — which comes out September 6 — she told the New York Times.

Its untold narrative is that of a duchess who lived in the mid-16th century and is believed to have inspired Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess."

O'Farrell talks more about discovering the stories she hopes to tell (and timing how she tackles them) in an interview with the NY Times.

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