a novel in dialogue
Robin Chapman

Shakespeare and
Cervantes attend a fringe production
of Cardenio starring Don Quixote
and Sancho Panza.

ISBN 978-0-9506715-1-2  RRP £14.99

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"A work as Quixotic in style as its title implies, and as multiple in its play with meanings and connections, past and present. It is set in the theatre of Robin Chapman's mind, which proves a magical arena. This recovery of Shakespeare's lost play, Cardenio, is both topical and made to yield a treasure trove of information, textual, biographical and critical. Always in the spirit of high comedy. A real instance of subtle learning worn with a deceptive lightness of touch.

Jean Gooder            

"Learned, structurally ingenious, evocative and pleasurable."

Karl Miller            


"The novel successfully creates the bustling action of early modern drama. Don Quixote and his squire furnish the perfect subplot. What distinguishes Chapman's work is its interrogation of adaptation itself. Compelling."

The Times Literary Supplement            

SHAKESPEARE’S DON QUIXOTE recreates what might have been: a lost play presented at Whitehall Palace in 1613.


On St Valentine’s day of that year King James’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth Stuart, married a German prince, the Elector Palatine. Shakespeare’s company – the King’s Men – provided fourteen plays for this magnificent state event. One was called Cardenio; registered for publication forty years later as by Mr Fletcher and, as an apparent afterthought, Shakespeare. The original script has never been found but an enigmatic 18th century version, retitled Double Falsehood, may contain echoes of their work together.


Cardenio’s story occurs in Don Quixote, Cervantes’s instant, universal best-seller. The vexed teenage protagonist, along with three other young lovers, encounters the would-be knight errant and his sceptical squire.


If John Fletcher, as dramaturge-designate with the King’s Men, did draw Shakespeare’s attention to the story’s dramatic potential – he regularly raided Cervantes’s works for plots – it seems inconceivable that their collaboration would not have featured Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Shakespeare would have found them irresistible.


Acting upon this hypothesis Robin Chapman’s novel plays out today in a theatre of the mind. Among the audience the reader will find the attentive spirits of Shakespeare, Fletcher and Cervantes. Inevitably they soon become involved with each other and in the performance.


ROBIN CHAPMAN began his career as an actor at Cambridge (he played Hamlet in the ADC’s centenary production and was president of the Marlowe Society) before holding a spear at Stratford-Upon-Avon, working in repertory and then joining Joan Littlewood’s revolutionary Theatre Workshop where he turned to writing. Among his stage plays are High Street China, Guests and One of Us. His television plays have won awards from the Mystery Writers of America and the Writers Guild as well as a Bafta nomination. Three of his ten novels to date form a trilogy extending the lives and experiences of characters found in Don Quixote. They are available from Oxbow Books at Oxford. Reviewing the first book of the trilogy The Duchess’s Diary in the Times Literary Supplement E.C. Riley said that it “shows a truer understanding of Cervantes than twenty books of criticism” while Karl Miller in the London Review of Books acclaimed Chapman’s “learned and yet fully animate invention”.