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Something has gone wrong with history in this gripping novel about a lie planted among the greatest works of English fiction.
Flamboyant, charismatic Matthew Cannonbridge was touched by genius, the most influential creative mind of the 19th century, a prolific novelist, accomplished playwright, the poet of his generation. The only problem is, he should never have existed and beleaguered, provincial, recently-divorced 21st Century don Toby Judd is the only person to realise something has gone wrong with history.
All the world was Cannonbridge’s and he possessed, seemingly, the ability to be everywhere at once. Cannonbridge was there that night by Lake Geneva when conversation between Byron, Shelley and Mary Godwin turned to stories of horror and the supernatural. He was sole ally, confidante and friend to the young Dickens as Charles laboured without respite in the blacking factory. He was the only man of standing and renown to regularly visit Oscar Wilde in prison. Tennyson's drinking companion, Kipling's best friend, Robert Louis Stevenson's counsellor and guide - Cannonbridge's extraordinary life and career spanned a century, earning him a richly-deserved place in the English canon.
But as bibliophiles everywhere prepare to toast the bicentenary of the publication of Cannonbridge's most celebrated work, Judd's discovery will lead him on a breakneck chase across the English canon and countryside, to the realisation that the spectre of Matthew Cannonbridge, planted so seamlessly into the heart of the 19th Century, might not be so dead and buried after all...
Jonathan Barnes was born in 1979 and was educated in Norfolk and at Oxford University. His first novel, The Somnambulist, was published in 2007 and his second, The Domino Men, in 2008. Between them they have been translated into eight languages. He writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and the Literary Review. Since 2011, he has been writer-in-residence at Kingston University. He is also the author of several full-cast audio dramas from Big Finish Productions, featuring characters from Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who.