The daughter of a Venetian musician but orphaned as a young girl, Aemilia Bassano grows up in the court of Elizabeth I, becoming the Queen's favourite. She absorbs a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a striking young woman with a sharp mind and a quick tongue. Now brilliant, beautiful and highly educated, Aemilia is mistress of Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain and Queen's cousin. But her position is precarious; when she falls in love with court playwright William Shakespeare, her fortunes change irrevocably. A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favour and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her son Henry becomes ill, Aemilia will do anything to save him, even making a pact with the Devil himself. A must-read for fans of Tracy Chevalier (Girl With a Pearl Earring) and Sarah Dunant (The Birth of Venus), Sally O'Reilly's richly atmospheric novel compellingly re-imagines the struggles for power, recognition and survival in the brutal world of Elizabethan London. She conjures the art of England's first professional female poet, giving us a character for the ages - a woman who is ambitious and intelligent, true to herself and true to her heart.