North West Wales

Anglesey writer, 82, lands three-book deal

An 82-year-old teacher and theatre director has been given a three-book deal after writing her first novel.

The Great Lie, the start of Myrrha Stanford-Smith's trilogy, is a fictional look at William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe's rivalry.

The Brighton-born grandmother from Anglesey said she was gobsmacked to be offered the book agreement.

She decided to seek a deal after positive feedback to a children's story she sent to BBC Radio Wales.

She said she was unprepared for the reaction from publishers Honno, however.

"I had to put the phone down and ring them back as I was so taken aback by the whole thing," she said.

Image caption The cover of the first novel

"I'd been waiting for the manuscript to be sent back really, rejected. It was such a wonderful surprise," she added.

The Great Lie features 16-year-old Nick, the son of the late first Earl of Rikesby, who runs away with a troupe of travelling players who take him to London, where he comes to Marlowe's attention.

Mrs Stanford-Smith trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before working in the theatre, with British director Sir Tyrone Guthrie, in the West End in London.

Later she moved into teaching and directing, and when she "retired" to Anglesey she set up the Ucheldre Repertory Company, where she still directs and teaches.

"It was so lovely to have the book in my hand with embossed cover," she said.

"I read it again just for pleasure - to have my book, my words, in my hand as my own book, it was wonderful.

"It's on the book shelves now next to my favourite authors, in pride of place with a gap for the next two in the trilogy," she added.

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