Harvard Yard
By William Martin
Published by Warner Books 
November 2003; 0446614505; 576 pages

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Harvard Yard by Wiliam MartinChapter One

1605-1637

ROBERT HARVARD went often to Stratford-on-Avon, but never before had he gone with such trepidation. Never before had the sight of the tower at Guild Chapel turned his stomach to jelly, nor the sound of his horse's hooves upon Clopton Bridge given him such cause to turn and ride the whole eighty miles back to London.

Ordinarily, he went to buy cattle, for he owned a butcher shop, and the farmers of Warwickshire raised the fattest cattle in England, and a butcher without cattle was like a tailor without cloth. But on this August afternoon, Robert Harvard went to seek a wife, for he was also a man, and a man without a wife was like a butcher without cattle, or a tailor without cloth, or a playwright without a stage....

And that, he thought, was a string of metaphors to charm the birds from the trees....Or were they similes? No matter. Will would know. Will would calm him, too, and give him the confidence to court a young woman as beautiful as Katherine Rogers. Of that he was certain. So, once across the river, Robert Harvard made for the rambling big house known as New Place. Will would tell him which of his words would work best. Will would also tell him the difference 'twixt a metaphor and a simile.

"'A butcher without cattle'?" cried Will Shakespeare. "You call that an image of love? You call that poetry? Or 'a tailor without cloth'?"

"Well ...what of 'a playwright without a stage'?" asked Harvard in his strong Southwark accent. "You court a wife, man, not a cutler. Sharpen your wit with soft words."

"Soft words? Words like ...like featherbed?"

"Aye, featherbed," said Will. "Featherbeds are soft. Pudding is soft. The dung that manures my roses is soft. But we speak here of a woman's heart."

 

Shakespeare was forty-one and far heavier than when first he appeared in Harvard's butcher shop some fifteen years before, a young man come to London hungry for fame but hungrier still for sausage or beef suet or even a marrow bone to fill his belly. Now, his face had filled and his belly had settled, as happened with most men whose purses had filled and whose lives had settled. But when he moved, Will Shakespeare was ever the actor, shaping each gesture and step to the role he played. And the role of the moment was poet.

He pushed open the windows of the great room and gazed out at his roses. He did not ruminate or pace upon the polished stone floor. His poetry came quickly. He gazed, he thought, and he said, "'Tis a beautiful day, Rob."

"Aye." Rob clasped his hands behind his back, then folded them in front of himself, then rested one on the hilt of his dagger and the other on his belt. Though he owned property in London, served as a warden in his church, and could afford to dress for courtship in a fine crimson doublet of crushed velvet, he still had the hands of a tradesman-big and coarse and never at ease unless holding a tool.

"'Tis a beautiful summer's day," said Shakespeare.

"Aye."

"Were I in your place, I'd say to her, 'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' "

"A summer's day, Will. Yes...'Tis warm. . . and soft."

"Indeed. 'Thou art more lovely and more. . . more-' "

"Temperate?" Robert Harvard offered a word that sounded eloquent.

"Temperate"-Shakespeare counted the syllables on his fingers-"

'Thou art more lovely and more tem-per-ate.' Not a word to describe the passion of love, but as a word for Katherine Rogers, I suppose 'tis aptly chosen, and it fits the meter."

And on he went, composing a sonnet to the fleeting beauty of summer and the solid nature of Robert Harvard's love.

"'So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, / So long lives this'--the sonnet, I mean--'so long lives this, and this...this gives life to thee.' "With a flip of his hand and a little bow, Will was done. "Soft words for Katherine Rogers."

Too many words, thought Robert Harvard, and too many metaphors ...or were they similes? But who was he to question a man whose poetry had earned him that handsome house and beautiful garden?

"Many thanks, Will. Courtship never come easy, even to a man of thirty-five."

"She's an angel, Rob ...reed slender, to be sure, but still an angel."

"And I be a mere mortal, widowed once and wantin' a new wife."

"You've been an angel to many a hungry actor."

"'Twas only what a Christian should do."

"There were Christians aplenty who denied victuals to this glover's son. But you gave him to eat. So"--Will gripped Robert's shoulders--"screw your courage to the sticking place, as we say. Speak to her father, then go to Katherine and tell her of a love as warm as a summer's day."

"Would that you'd stand aside me, Will, and whisper these words in me ear."

"'Tis for you to do yourself, Rob. And you'd not want me whispering in your ear on a day when malevolence whispers in mine."

"Malevolence?"

"By the name Iago, servant to the blackamoor Othello. He has deranged Othello with his lies." The excitement danced on Will's face, and malevolence crept into his voice. "Othello is about to strangle his flaxen-haired wife in a fit of jealous rage. He wraps his hands round her neck and-" Will calmed himself, as if his imagination were a pitcher full to the brim, from which he could afford to spill only a little. "So, then ...you to your muse, and I to mine."

"'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' " Robert Harvard repeated the words as he walked from New Place to the Rogers home in High Street.

A temperate summer's day. On such a day, how could a man see deranged Moors strangling flaxen-haired women? Playwrights were foreign creatures altogether, he thought, that they could imagine such things and not themselves be deranged. He tried to banish these dark visions, but he feared to lose the better images Will had put into his head, as when we seek to banish the thorn, we lose also the petal. So he turned his mind to the bouquet of roses he had cut in Will's garden and to the thorn pricking his finger.

The house of Thomas Rogers was one of the finest in Stratford, rising in three half-timbered stories, with great windows flung open on every floor. Rich man's windows they were, overlooking a street wider and more welcoming than any in London. And there was no man in London or Stratford more welcoming than Thomas Rogers, alderman and cattle broker.

Next to cattle, good cheer was his stock-in-trade, but what man would lack for good cheer who profited from Warwickshire beef and ate it, too? His good cheer grew even greater when he learned the purpose of Harvard's visit, for Rogers had seven daughters, and the girl in question had reached the ripe old age of twenty-one without a husband.

It did not surprise Robert, then, that they settled on a dowry more quickly than ever they had settled on a price for cattle. It did surprise him, however, that Rogers would honor the bargain only if the girl went willingly to marriage.

"Willingly ...aye," said Robert, "or not at all." He found Katherine in the garden, in a shaft of golden sunlight, and the shimmer of her flaxen hair caused him to forget all the words Will Shakespeare had given him. He nearly forgot his own name.

"Why, Master Harvard," she said, " 'tis pleasure to see you." Rob reached for Will's words, but the first image he found was of a deranged Moor, fingers twined round the neck of his flaxen-haired wife, an image to be banished yet again. And just as he feared, Will's soft words went with it, so that he could only stammer, "I ...I ..."

"Roses?" said Katherine. "Roses are a joy."

"Yes." And now he found a few of Will's words, hiding in his memory ...old words, but good ones, and soft, spoken by the character of Romeo. "Roses they are, miss, but ...that which we call a rose, by any other name would ...would ..."

"Smell as sweet?"

"Yes ...though not so sweet as you, miss." And that, he thought, was well said.

In taking the roses, she noticed the blood on his fingertip. "Why, good sir, you bleed for me? How noble." And gently she touched him.

His hand trembled at her touch, and yet did her touch itself tremble, which he found strangely calming, for it meant that she was as nervous as he ...and perhaps as willing. And a small measure of his wit returned. He said, "I bleed for love, miss."

And she said, "I yearn for it."

And Rob found a few of Will's softer words to speak. "I bleed willingly for love, on a ...a summer's day."

"'Tis a fine summer's day that Robert Harvard brings me roses."

"A temperate summer's day." And then did his wit return in full. "I promise many more, even when the cold December of our lives has been lived to the solstice, even then shall I find a final summer's day with thee, miss, should you say yes to marriage."

And her smile spoke more eloquently than all the words that Will Shakespeare had ever written.

Two years later, if one were to ask Robert Harvard the season, he would say "summer," no matter the angle of the sun, for no northern blast could cool the summer he knew in the bed of Katherine Harvard, a rose even sweeter now that she bore his name.

And no day was more June-glorious to him than the damp November afternoon when he and Katherine brought their firstborn son to St. Saviour's in Southwark. Robert Harvard would never know with greater certainty of God's love or his own immortality than at the moment when the tiny head was held over the font and the spirit-cleansing water poured down. Nor would he ever know better that the love of his fellow man reflected God's love than on that night, when friends and neighbors went to the Queen's Head Inn to celebrate the birth of the baby named John.

As Robert Harvard was a part owner of the inn, the presence of the babe brought no scandal to the taproom. In truth, there was little that happened on that side of the Thames that could cause Southwark to appear more scandalous than it already was. City fathers reigned on the north bank, but their power did not cross the twenty-arch bridge. So here would be found prostitutes in their stews, selling favors to pay rents to the corrupt bishop of Winchester.

Here cutpurses thrived in alleys, and convicts served in Clink. Here animal baiters brought beasts to fight in the pits, and when the beasts were killed, the baiters learned new skills from convicts and cutpurses, too. And here, performing by day in the theaters, carousing by night in the taprooms, were the actors.

But here also the bell tower of St. Saviour's rose like a father confessor above his sinners. And here men like Robert Harvard, men of business and sometimes of property, saw sin for what it was and rose above it, too, though Robert believed in the Lord's admonition that "what you do for the least of my brethren, you do for me." So on that night of celebration, he opened the tap for all and asked payment of none.

Most brought good wishes. A few brought gifts of silver coin. Others brought no more than their thirst. But one, who came in from the cold wearing a cape trimmed in rabbit fur, brought a gift of paper and leather that would prove more valuable than gold. Will Shakespeare elbowed through the crowd, neither expecting nor offering ceremony to those who greeted him with shouts and handshakes and resounding slaps upon the back.

Rob called for Will's tankard to be taken from the shelf and filled.

Katherine, no longer reed-slender, but a young mother in all the fullness of life, proclaimed, "Master Shakespeare, you do the Harvards a great honor."

"I honor the child, ma'am." Shakespeare bowed. "And his beautiful mother."

"Many thanks, Will," said Robert. "Many thanks for all your favors," added Katherine. "My husband has oft spake of your help one temperate summer's day. Do you know what now he calls our son?"

"Aye," said Will with a laugh. " 'Love's Labours Won.' 'Tis a description to flatter a playwright. But the babe surely tells of love's victory."

"Aye!" cried Robert a little drunkenly. "To my own Love's Labours Won!" And the crowd roared.

Then Shakespeare reached under his cape and withdrew a volume of quarto size, bound in red leather, held with a blue ribbon. "The very play, Love's Labours Won. In a prompt book, transcribed by my own hand from my foul papers."

"'Tis a thing of beauty, good sir." Katherine held the book in front of her child. "Look you, John, see what Master Shakespeare gives you."

The babe was more interested in the taste of his own thumb, but Robert Harvard received the book with all the awe he might muster had the rector of St. Saviour's given him a relic of the true cross. He caressed the leather binding, thumbed the pages, and asked, "But, Will, would you not stage this play again?"

Shakespeare waved a hand. "The King's Men have another prompt book, though the play be all out of date, and a trifle as 'tis."

"Would you not print it, at the very least?"

"Once a play sees print, any man may stage it, which be money from my pocket," said Shakespeare. " 'Tis the reason I seldom give such gifts as this. But for the Harvards, Love's Labours Won be a talisman of good fortune. Should you sell this to a printer-"

"Oh, never, Will."

"-'twill fetch ten pounds. As companion to Love's Labours Lost, which they say sold well, perhaps more. A good start for the child's future."

"I'll never sell, Will. This takes a place of honor with me Bible, a reminder of this night and that summer's day in Stratford."

"Good." Shakespeare touched the child's head. "Let its title remind him that a happy man enjoys his summer days and knows the miracle of love's labors."

At that, Rob raised his mug again, "To Love's Labours Won!"

God gave the Harvards eighteen summers more to labor in their love, and they produced a family of seven children. Then God sent the coldest of winds.

It was in the third week of August, anno Domini 1625, that the first blast struck their son Willie, who went stumbling to his bed, chilled and feverish. Within an hour, he was vomiting. He brought up the gruel he had eaten in the morning, then remnants of stew from the night before, then streams of bile so green and viscous, it seemed that his very insides were shredding.

Then young Robbie came home freezing despite the damp heat that lay like a quilt upon London. He threw an extra log onto the great-room fire, wrapped himself in a blanket, and began to sweat and shiver all at once.

Then Kate, a gentle child of thirteen, looked up from her knitting, cried out in shock as her bowels suddenly let go, and collapsed into a puddle of her own stool.

That was when Katherine Harvard shouted up the stairs to John that he put by his books and hurry to fetch his father. John was sitting in his favorite spot, by a window on the top floor, oblivious in the sunlight to all save his study of a Latin text on the epistles of Paul. But from the sound of terror in his mother's voice, he knew what was upon them. Stumbling down to the great room, he was struck first by the stench, then by the heat of a roaring fire in August, then by the sight of his brothers and sister.

"Hurry, John," cried his mother. "Hurry and tell Father. He'll know what to do. Hurry ...but don't forget your rosemary." John plucked a few leaves from the sprigs hanging by the door, rolled them, and stuffed them into his nostrils and ears for protection. Then he went out.

He ran down an alley to the galleried courtyard of the Queen's Head Inn, which was much like the courtyards of the George or the Boar's Head or a hundred other London inns where a man could find food and lodging. But curtains of fear hung from every railed balcony, and the drain that carried chamber wastes to Borough High Street was all but empty, for the Queen's Head itself was all but empty, for the bubonic plague had descended, not only on the Harvard house but on all of Southwark.

John took another alley that led to the street. He moved quickly, being the long-legged and lanky sort, heir to his mother's slender height and ready smile. People called him too bookish by half and said that he had inherited little from his father but a square jaw and a good heart. In John's mind, that was gift enough, for he had no interest in his father's trade. Let other men cut meat. John Harvard would study God's word and nourish souls.

A young man of such faith should not have feared the sight of the death carts and their corpses, for it meant that souls were now rising to their reward. But the cry of "Bring out the dead," followed by the clanging of the gravedigger's bell, caused him to stop a moment in the shadows. Even one as strong in spirit as John Harvard needed the strengthening of a small prayer before he could step into the street in that season of death.

And the sight that greeted him was more fearful than any death cart. It was his father, staggering toward him, eyes wide and glassy, body hunched in pain.

"John!" cried Robert Harvard. "Help me. Help me. I burn."

"Aye, John. Help him," growled the gravedigger. "But come not into the street again, 'cept to bring out your dead. Once the pestilence be on your house, you must stay till it leave. 'Tis the law." John turned quickly from the black-shrouded figure and led his father up the alley.

"Oh, Rob," cried Katherine as they came in the door, "we are. . . Good God!"

Robert reached toward her, and a stream of vomit shot from his mouth.

John Harvard did what he could to comfort his family, then stuffed more rosemary into his nose, said a prayer for strength, and went out again. If the plague was soon to take him, he would see St. Saviour's and the face of Rector Morton once more, no matter the laws, for no man-made law would stop what God wished otherwise.

He moved quickly through death-gripped Southwark. The ringing of the bells and the cries of the gravediggers could be heard on every corner, as if this were some black festival. Guards with fearsome pikes and frightened faces stood outside the Globe Theater and the Bear Gardens, both closed to keep people from congregating. Men lay dead in the gutters, their plaguey sores a feast for the rats. In Clink Street, the corpses were piled before the gates of the prison like kitchen slops. But the Winchester geese, the Southwark whores, had all flown, rents to the bishop be damned.

Soon enough, John Harvard arrived at St. Saviour's. He took a pew in the same small chapel where he had been baptized, and he began to pray.

"Why, John!" cried Rector Nicholas Morton at the sight of him. "The plague be on your house. You must go home. 'Tis the law."

"I come to pray, sir, to understand God's purpose in sendin' a plague."

"You have only to read your Holy Scripture to know." Morton peered from across the room, as if to make sure that no signs of the infection were yet upon John Harvard. "Why should God treat sinful London different than he treat the Egyptians?"

"But we have not enslaved the Israelites."

"We have enslaved ourselves, John, to vain amusement, to Whitsuntide revel, to pomp and arrogance that mask corruption. Reason enough to incur God's displeasure."

"But my parents? They be good Christians. Why does this happen to them?"

"I know not. Though there be some in the church who would say that your father's friendship with actors and the like was...was too frivolous."

"Will Shakespeare worshiped in these very pews, sir. He was a faithful friend."

"I said some in the church, John. Not all." John looked up at the stained-glass windows of the chapel. "There are some in the church who would say that even the colors in that glass be too frivolous for worship."

Rector Morton now slipped into the pew, pulled a few sprigs of rosemary from his pocket, and waved them as if to ward off a bad smell. "You aspire to Emmanuel College at Cambridge, do you not, John?"

"Yes, sir." John took comfort, as always, in the round, solid presence of the rector, despite the waving herbs.

"'Tis high ambition for a tradesman's son to attend any college," said Morton, "and for certain a college given to producing men who would purify our ritual and bring preciseness to the manners of this world."

"I'm aware of it, sir, and if this plague pass over me, I'll shoulder it."

"And I'll speak for you." Morton clasped the boy's forearm. "But remember ...at Emmanuel, men of wisdom see the works of Shakespeare and his ilk as tools of the devil, glorifications of man's vanity, his passions, his appetites, all the things that lead us toward sin. Do you understand?"

"I believe so, sir."

"Then turn your mind to higher things. In them will you find the answer to your hardest questions....Now, a prayer for all the Harvards."

Whatever the prayer, it was not answered.

Just after sundown, a delegation of bishop's men did as the law prescribed. They boarded up the windows and painted a red cross on the door of the Harvard house, now one of hundreds of plague houses in Southwark.

The first to die was Kate, whose fever rose so high that she all but burned to death, which was merciful, for it saved her from far worse.

Robbie lay moaning until the third day, when the buboes erupted on his neck and under his arms. They began as small black blisters, swelled quickly to the size of hazelnuts, and within a few hours were as big as hen's eggs. Then they split and began to ooze black blood, and this boy with his whole life before him cried out for death.

Peter, the youngest, went feverish, erupted, and died-all in a single afternoon.

John and his mother rushed from misery to misery, from the third floor to the master bed to the great room, giving such care as they could-a wet cloth to cool a burning forehead, a clean shirt to cover a suppurating body, a prayer to calm a terrified spirit-and all the while, they watched one another to see which of them would fall next.

By the third day, Katherine Rogers Harvard had lost three sons and a daughter, all of them now laid out on the table in the great room. She herself had fallen into a pit of grief that left her wordless and motionless on a chair in the midst of her dead children. And neither urging nor prayer nor imprecation from John could induce her to mount the stairs and speak a final time to the man she loved. So it was left for John to comfort his father, to pray with him, to read Scripture to him, to give him drafts of ale to cool his fever, and finally to watch the buboes erupt and grow, bringing with them their unconquerable agony.

By the morning of the fourth day, Robert Harvard was a living corpse, putrefying through the open black sores at his neck and groin. Yet he raised his head from the pillow, looked about the room with eyes suddenly clear, and called for Katherine as calmly as if he were calling for a cup of broth.

"Father," said John, who had spent the night at the bedside, "she cannot come."

"Is she ...is she dead, too?"

"No ...but-"

"She must come then. I must tell her that it still be summer."

"Yes, Father. 'Tis August. 'Tis still summer."

"No ...summer . . . soft summer ...temperate summer...'tis a metaphor...or simile...'tis..." He knitted his brow, as if a new idea had come to him, something to which he must give breath. "Johnny-"

"Aye."

"Me books." He looked toward the volumes on a shelf by the win-dow. "Yes, Father ...your Bible, your Homer ...a man will be known by his books. 'Tis what you've always said."

"All me books," said Robert with a sudden vehemence that made him seem to rise from the pillow like a demon in bloody bed-clothes. "I want you to keep 'em all."

"Yes, Father."

"Even...even Will Shakespeare's book."

"Love's Labours Won?"

And Robert Harvard was wracked by a spasm of pain that caused his whole body to shake. When it passed he said, "I...I know your heart. That you would go to the college at Emmanuel, that you hold with them who would purify the church...."

"Yes, Father."

"Rector Morton be a good friend, a good man, a learned man. . . I be a simple butcher. But I tell you...you must cherish what Will give us."

"Yes, Father."

"Cherish joy. Know ...know love's labors ...in book and life." The father grabbed for the son's collar, pulled him close, and whispered, "Give ...me ...your ...word."

The stench of his breath was like rotting meat, but John did not pull away.

He grasped his father's hand in both of his and said, "My word." And Robert Harvard sank back onto the pillow, back into himself, back toward some inner peace. Then he lay silent.... John sat for some time contemplating the body. Then he covered his father with the bloody sheet and spent several minutes more contemplating the shelf of books.

A man, he knew, would be known by his books.

Twelve years later, a small ship called the Hector pounded west into the Atlantic.

John Harvard, master of arts, Emmanuel College, the last of his family line, heir to the Queen's Head Inn and other London properties, clerk, cattle breeder, putative minister, and husband to Ann Sadler, was going to America. The Harvards were part of the great Puritan migration. Men and women of conscience, who did not hold with the rituals of the church and despaired of the corruption in the state, had obtained a charter to build a new England some three thousand miles from the old, well beyond the reach of robed bishops and royal authority.

They were a week into the journey, and Ann Sadler Harvard was seasick. With skies darkening and seas rising, it was likely that she would be seasick some time more.

So John put his body between his wife and the sea-foam spraying over the bow, in hope that she could vomit in peace.

"Good Lord, but what a stream," cried Nathaniel Eaton, a young man of such surpassing strong stomach and lack of compassion that he went about the seasick deck chewing on a piece of smoked herring. Black-bearded and burly, he might have been taken for a sailor, though he was the son of a leading churchman, brother to a member of the Massachusetts Bay Company, which backed the voyage, and author of a respected treatise on the meaning of the Sabbath. All of this had put him in line to be first master of the colony's new college. None of this, however, meant that he had received the gift of tact.

"John," he said, "she pukes like a grass-fed dog, but no man on the ship show better devotion to his wife."

Ann Harvard looked up, her delicate features sharpened by sickness and fear, her skin the color of the sea. " 'Tis the same devotion my husband will show to a flock, once we reach America, sir."

"A fine place for man to become a preacher," answered Eaton, "though the company shows true foresight in bringin' aboard a dozen Warwickshire breeders. Such beasts will give birth to a mighty herd, should they survive. Though they do stink, do they not, ma'am?" Eaton grinned, as if he enjoyed turning a lady's stomach by mere suggestion. "Ship smells like a floatin' barnyard." And the face of Ann Harvard grew a little grayer.

"'Tis as if we travel on the ark," said John Harvard, who himself looked more gray than pink, "on our way to make a new world of righteousness."

"My husband will nourish men's minds," said Ann Harvard, "with books."

"Books shall nourish, especially in the college, where we shall raise up new Puritan ministers and magistrates." Eaton popped the last of the herring into his mouth. "But if your belly be empty, food matter more than books."

"I carry four hundred books." John Harvard shivered off the cold, then sought to cough it away, then spat a phlegmy splatter over the side. "Books to enrich our souls and lighten our lives. A man will be known by his books, Nathaniel."

"Had I such a cough as that, I'd see to my health, John, before my books."

"I've survived worse, Nathaniel. The plague carried away all but my mother and one brother. Now they, too, be gone. The Lord spares me for a purpose. That I know."

Suddenly, a great wave struck the bow and sent a shudder down the length of the keel. A fountain of water burst over the rail, knocking the Harvards to the deck and knocking the bulk of Nathaniel Eaton on top of them.

The ship rode down into the trough behind the wave, then up the side of the next, and from belowdecks came cries of fear as the green sea poured down the gangways. Ann said, "The books, John!"

"Fear not for the books!" cried Eaton. "Worry for the cattle." John Harvard prayed for his books but imagined the water doing its damage, spilling down into the hold full of trunks, trickling down into one of his trunks of books, seeping down through the oil-cloth lining, swelling the bindings on his Latin texts, staining the covers of his Calvin, and causing the ink to run on the pages of one book that should never have been in the trunk of a good Puritan- a play by William Shakespeare, a play that he kept to keep a deathbed promise, a covenant with his father as sacred as that he had made with his God.

Copyright 2003 William Martin
Reprinted with permission.
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Synopsis

A tale of families, rebellion, war, and devotion, William Martin's new novel chronicles the life of America's most revered university and the real men and women who made Harvard what it is today. It is also the riveting story of a high-stakes treasure hunt…for "a small gift of majestic proportions."

From the year it was established on the edge of the American wilderness-funded by a quarter of the colony's tax levy and a gift from one remarkable man-Harvard lived in the eye of a ceaseless storm: a profound conflict between ignorance and enlightenment, faith and reason, elitism and equality.

Now, three hundred years later, Peter Fallon-the hero of William Martin's bestselling novel Back Bay-has found evidence that an undiscovered Shakespeare play is hidden somewhere at the college. An antiquarian who knows many of Harvard's carefully guarded secrets, Fallon understands the powerful implications of the discovery. But as he sorts through the school's past, from witch hangings to the fires of the Civil War to the riotous 1960s, he realizes that men and women have risked death, disgrace, and banishment for the very secret he is seeking. As Fallon relives conflicts between generations, families, friends, and lovers, he begins to understand something else: that finding this treasure is a matter of life and death.

Following the destiny of one family from the first class of Harvard to the present day, HARVARD YARD is a brilliant work of historical fiction, a beguiling mystery, and an extraordinary saga of the shaping of the American mind.

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Author

William MartinWilliam Martin went to Harvard where majored in English, worked as an historical research assistant and directed theater in the evening. He graduated in 1972, and went into construction to raise money to move to Hollywood.

At the University of California, he studied motion pictures and came to realize that he should write screenplays to get into the business. After submitting two, producers suggested that he should write a novel to take best of advantage of the way he writes. So he wrote an outline and got a publishing deal for $7,500. The book, Back Bay, was published in 1979 when he was twenty-nine and it became one of handful of debut novels to ever reach the New York Times bestseller list. Rather than return to Hollywood, he chose to stay in Boston.

He and his wife have three children -- two sons and a daughter -- and they live in Massahusetts.

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