J.R. Thorp

I am the queen of two crowns, banished fifteen years, the famed and gilded woman, bad-luck baleful girl, mother of three small animals, now gone. I am fifty-five years old. I am Lear’s wife. I am here.
Learwife by J.R. Thorp (Paperback ISBN 9781838852849) book cover

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Inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear, this breathtaking debut novel tells the story of the most famous woman ever written out of literary history


‘Seductive … Gorgeous’ The Times
‘Gives voice to one of fiction’s most conspicuously absent women’ i

Word has come. King Lear is dead. His three daughters too, broken in battle. But someone has survived: Lear’s queen.

Though her grief and rage threaten to crack the earth open, she knows she must seek answers. Why was she exiled? What has happened to Kent, her oldest friend? And what will become of her now? To find peace she must reckon with her past and make a terrible choice – one upon which her destiny rests.

“Poetic … Distinctive and compelling … Thorp’s poignant and surprising narrative allows a character absent from the original play to obtain her long overdue agency”

See more reviews

“Seductive … Gorgeous”
the Times

“Gorgeously written … artful and moving … a beautiful triumph”
new York Times

“Thorp’s vivid debut novel gives voice to one of fiction’s most conspicuously absent women … Lyrical … Thorp’s distinctive style is heady and evocative … Learwife slots into a strong alternative canon of feminist retellings of classic stories”

“Original, intriguing … Thorp’s novel is beautifully written in rich, imaginative prose”
sunday Times, Best New Historical Fiction

J.R. Thorp

J.R. Thorp is a writer, lyricist and librettist. She won the London Short Story Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the BBC Opening Lines Prize, and has had work published in the Cambridge Literary Review, Manchester Review, Antithesis, Wave Composition and elsewhere. She wrote the libretto for the highly acclaimed modern opera Dear Marie Stopes and has had works commissioned by the Arts Council, the Wellcome Trust and St Paul’s Cathedral. Born in Australia, she now lives in Cork, Ireland.

Learwife is her first novel.

@ThoroughlyThorp | jrthorp.com

J.R. Thorp, author of Learwife, reveals why she chose to name her debut novel after the wife of Shakespeare’s famous King Lear.