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Black Drop


By: Shirley McKay

Price: CAD $18.99

Publisher: BIRLINN LIMITED

Imprint: Polygon

400 Pages

7.8 X 5.1 ins

ISBN:  9781846974847 -- Paperback

Publication Date: 04/22/2021

The year is 1820, and the literati gather at publisher William Blackwood's Edinburgh bookshop, the portal to the New Town and the modern age. At the edge of their circle is the young clerk Eden Walker, dazzled by the firmament of fashion and celebrity, in which the brightest star is the Great Unknown, whose authorship of Waverley remains an open secret and whose dramas now electrify the Edinburgh stage.

The sensation of the month is Blackwood's magazine, a toxic jeu d'esprit whose correspondents play upon the cult of anonymity, writing under masks and assumed identities to make libellous attacks on enemies and friends. Eden is drawn in to this shape-shifting world, where illusion turns to nightmare and glitter falls to dust, with tragic, and fatal, results.

Black Drop is a story of the cult of personality, of literary celebrity and noxious anonymity, and above all of identity, played out in the graceful milieu of the Edinburgh New Town, where everything revolves around the self.



Shirley McKay was born in Tynemouth but now lives with her family in Fife. At the age of fifteen she won the Young Observer playwriting competition, her play being performed at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs. She went on to study English and Linguistics at the University of St Andrews before attending Durham University for postgraduate study in Romantic and Seventeenth-Century prose. She was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger. Shirley works as a freelance proofreader.



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