Tiffany, Grace 1958-
TIFFANY, Grace 1958-
Female. Born 1958. Education: Duke University, B.A.; Notre Dame University, Ph.D.
Office—Department of English, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008.
Educator and author. Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, member of faculty, 1995-2003, professor of English, 2003—; previously taught at Fordham University, University of New Orleans, and University of Notre Dame.
Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters: Shakespeare, Jonson, and Comic Androgyny, Associated University Presses (Cranbury, NJ), 1995.
(Editor) Reformations: Religion, Rulership, and the Sixteenth-Century Stage, Medieval Institute Publications (Kalamazoo, MI), 1998.
My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakespeare's Tale (novel), Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Will (novel), Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Author has contributed to numerous publications, including scholarly publications such as Comparative Drama and Renaissance Quarterly.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Another novel titled The Turquoise Ring, publication by Berkeley expected 2005; a children's book titled Ariel, publication by HarperCollins expected 2006.
An English professor at Western Michigan University, Grace Tiffany specializes in the works of William Shakespeare and English Renaissance drama and has written both academic treatises and fiction stemming from her expertise. In Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters: Shakespeare, Jonson, and Comic Androgyny, Tiffany analyzes the use of androgyny in the comedies of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson in a context reaching back to classical Greece and Rome. She initially discusses the classical origins of mythic and satiric androgyny before turning her attention to Shakespeare and Jonson, including a general look at androgyny in their comedies and a discussion of specific plays, for example Shakespeare's As You Like It and Jonson's The Merry Wives of Windsor. Writing in Comparative Drama, Kent Cartwright called Tiffany's book "a skillful comparatist's study, and one of its achievements is to construct a detailed lattice of intersections between Shakespeare, Jonson, and classical literature." Shakespeare Quarterly contributor Bruce Boehrer noted that Tiffany's "treatment of Jonson sometimes lacks nuance" but also said, "Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters is at its best surveying the legacy of classical myth and satire and in applying the complexities of Shakespearean comic language, thereby providing an invaluable service for scholars of gender and modern subject-formation, as well as for students of the classical tradition."
Tiffany turned from scholarly studies to fiction for her debut novel, My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakespeare's Tale. In the book, Tiffany tells the tale of Judith, a willful young girl who defies the conventions of society. Following a family tragedy and her father's seemingly heartless mocking of her grief in one of his plays, Judith sets out in disguise to ruin a stage production of one of her father's plays, only to become enamored with acting. She ends up appearing on stage in the famous Globe Theatre in London. Eventually, Shakespeare discovers that "Castor Popworthy"—the stage name Judith has adopted—is none other than his daughter and ships her back to Stratford, where Judith ends up marrying a local vintner. Some reviewers felt that the final third of the book focusing on Judith's life after her exploits in London was not nearly as interesting as the first part; as a Kirkus Reviews contributor commented, "The great adventure of Judith's life now over, the story runs out of steam." However, a reviewer writing in Publishers Weekly praised Tiffany's London scenes, noting that they "provide a brisk and vivid introduction to Elizabethan theatre." Karen T. Bilton, writing in Library Journal, commented that the author "presents a view of the life and psyche of the playwright that is unparalleled and fascinating." In a review in Booklist, Kristine Huntley also offered high praise for the novel. She called it a "lively romp" and noted, "This magical tale captures the bustle and excitement of Shakespeare's London, as seen through the eyes of a delightful heroine."
Tiffany retains her focus on Shakespeare with her second novel, Will. Combining fact and fiction, she tells the story of what Shakespeare's life might have been like, from his early schooling to his move to London to make his fortune, and his marriage and other romantic liaisons. In the novel, Tiffany also provides historically accurate descriptions of Elizabethan England, its many playhouses, and the influence of Queen Elizabeth on the arts of the time. Making appearances in the novel are real-life personages such as Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and the queen herself. The novel also provides a glimpse into the potential inspirations for many of Shakespeare's plays, including Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth. Bilton, again writing in Library Journal, found that Tiffany is "overly frugal in her use of background information," causing readers unfamiliar with Shakespeare's plays to become bored. Nevertheless, the reviewer lauded Tiffany's "comprehensive historical research" and her "elegant prose." Booklist contributor Huntley commented that for those readers interested "in the vibrant world of sixteenth-century London and the life of a great writer, this lively boisterous novel will have much appeal."
Interestingly, Tiffany wrote Will prior to My Father Had a Daughter but set it aside after publishers wanted her to rework the novel and tell Will's story from his wife's perspective. "At first, I found that insulting," Tiffany was quoted as saying in WMU News. "I wasn't too interested in the wife's perspective, but I did begin to think it would be interesting to fashion a character out of Shakespeare's younger daughter, Judith, and to see what she thought of her dad." As a result, Tiffany turned to writing Judith's story and only returned to Will later, after Judith's tale was told. "There was a symbiosis between the two books," Tiffany noted in WMU News.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakespeare'sTale, p. 1582; May 15, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of Will, p. 1612.
Comparative Drama, summer, 1996, Kent Cartwright, review of Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters: Shakespeare, Jonson, and Comic Androgyny, pp. 292-296.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003, review of My Father Had a Daughter, p. 505.
Library Journal, May 15, 2003, Karen T. Bilton, review of My Father Had a Daughter, p. 127; June 1, 2004, Bilton, review of Will, p. 126.
Publishers Weekly, April 21, 2003, review of My Father Had a Daughter, p. 40.
Renaissance Quarterly, summer, 1997, Lori Schroeder Haslem, review of Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters, p. 664.
Shakespeare Quarterly, spring, 1998, review of Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters, pp. 107-108.
Sixteenth Century Journal, fall, 2002, Jami Ake, review of Reformations: Religion, Rulership, and the Sixteenth-Century Stage, p. 863.
WMU News (Western Michigan University), http://www.wmich.edu/ (May 26, 2004), "Tiffany's Second Novel Offers New View of 'Will.'"