Lea-Rachel Kosnik, associate professor of economics at UMSL, recently published a novel “The Other Shakespeare."

Lea-Rachel Kosnik, associate professor of economics at UMSL, recently published a novel, “The Other Shakespeare.”

Lea-Rachel Kosnik is known throughout her field as a leading environmental economist, but now she can add published fiction writer to her vita.

Kosnik, an associate professor of economics at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, recently published “The Other Shakespeare,” a novel she’s been working on for several years.

“It’s based on a Virginia Woolf book,” she said. “I was riding the train from St. Louis to Chicago going to an economics conference, and the nice thing about the train is you can just sit back and read. I was reading the book ‘A Room of One’s Own,’ and in it she has a one-page sketch about what if William Shakespeare had actually been born a woman and was called Judith Shakespeare. And I thought, why not? Why not make that novel? Why not write about Judith Shakespeare?”

Kosnik, a resident of University City, Mo., said she couldn’t let it go and it became a multiyear project.

“Judith is imaginary, but every other character in the book is real, so it’s a well-researched book,” she said. “The entire Shakespeare family is in there.”

The book is based around Judith, who Kosnik presents as a sibling to William.

“I have her instigating the whole family’s love of play acting. And she’s not allowed to go to school, she really wants to go, but she’s not allowed,” she said. “So I imagine her stealing her brothers notes and trying to have them teach her a little on the side.”

Judith is sent to London to work as a housekeeper for a wealthy family, but while there she becomes enamored with theater. However, she’s faced with numerous obstacles and challenges based on her gender.

In addition to the story of Judith, Kosnik wanted to give her readers even more to look forward to. She embedded a William Shakespeare quote in each chapter.

“I hope that as they are reading, it becomes kind of fun and challenging to find each one,” Kosnik said.

“Writing this was really a passion of mine. I really think there’s something very valuable about doing this. I could be creative for a few hours in the morning and then I could switch my brain to something very different, but my brain would be awakened and invigorated. I know not everyone pursues different interests outside of their main career, but I think it’s very valuable to do so.”

The 192-page book is published by Writer’s Design and is available for $9.95 on AmazonBarnes and Noble and at Subterranean Books and Dunaway Books.

Jen Hatton

Jen Hatton