The main big thing left to finish is the Chapter Notes. Once again, I will probably disappoint readers by not providing an index, although the book's organization should make it very easy to track down where I talk about specific Shakespearean attributes, and where a particular play or poem is discussed. In lieu of an index, for readers who purchase the paperback rather than the ebook, I will be happy to send them searchable PDF files of the book on request.
The big progress that I made today is finishing the cover design, pending suggestions from family members and blog readers (should you wish to comment). Here it is, entering the world for the very first time! Best of luck, little book cover.
The three standing figures in the back, from left to right, are the poet Joshua Sylvester (who honored Thomas Sackville after his 1608 death as a poet who had been secretly devoted to the muses), the legal scholar John Selden, and the playwright Francis Beaumont. Seated at table from left are the historian William Camden, the poet-statesman Thomas Sackville (then Earl of Dorset, and perhaps the real Shakespeare?), the playwright John Fletcher, the essayist Sir Francis Bacon, the poet Ben Jonson (who organized the 1623 First Folio project), the poet John Donne (who praised the “E. of D.”’s poetry above that of all his peers), the poet Samuel Daniel, the actor and playwright William Shakespeare, the courtier poet Sir Walter Raleigh, the Earl of Southampton (the Fair Youth of Shake-Speare’s Sonnets), the antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton, and the playwright Thomas Dekker. Figure identifications are provided in The World's Best Essays from the Earliest Period to the Present Time, edited by David J. Brewer in ten volumes (St. Louis: Ferd. Kaiser, 1900; see engraving facing page 1491 of Vol. 4).
What I love about the front cover painting is that based on almost non-existent historical documentation, it imagines how William Shakespeare hung out with all the greatest intellectuals of the period at the Mermaid Tavern (a tavern of universal knowledge where he soaked up great quantities of all the specialized knowledge held by the author of the works including Greek, Italian, French, and the law). It always makes me laugh as a Stratfordian fantasy, but it has the advantage of showing a large group of people associated with the authorship debate including Sackville himself. And William is sticking out his foot a bit as if someone could try to fit a glass slipper on it -- but that is a very subtle point and not necessary to enjoy the cover art.
The back cover illustration is the undated portrait Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset, by John De Critz the Elder (died 1647).