A ROMANCE novelist is returning to the place where her own love story began 20 years ago – and inspired her first book.
Kiley Dunbar began her love affair with Stratford – and her husband Nicholas – when she worked as a tour guide for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT).
The 40-year-old recently published her first book, One Summer’s Night, which mirrors her own experiences as a tour guide in the town.
And to celebrate its publication she is returning next month to hide copies around some of Stratford’s best known tourist hotspots.
Kiley visited for the first time as a 19-year-old with her parents and immediately fell head over heels for the Bard’s home town.
The mum-of-three told the Observer: “I loved Stratford for the Shakespeare connection. I came for the weekend with my parents and saw a play at the RSC. In just that one visit I fell in love. I was a complete goner. So when summer came around I wrote to the SBT and they accepted. I just wanted to be immersed in the history of the place.”
Scottish-born Kiley worked four summers at SBT, guiding groups around Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Mary Arden’s Farm, and Hall’s Croft, and loved every minute.
“I saw every play on at the RSC. I would do anything to make money to buy theatre tickets. I remember serving wine at the literary festival. I even did a photo shoot for the Shakespeare Centre magazine dressed as Shakespeare’s mother holding a little baby Shakespeare doll.
“After that I sold souvenirs in the gift shop at the Swan Theatre at nights. It was a very busy and magical time.”
She was set up with a blind-date with Nicholas during her first summer, and the couple became engaged just four days later.
She said: “It was so unlike me, I’m usually quite sensible. My family and friends were horrified. Luckily I knew he was the one.”
But unlike Kiley, in true Bard-style, her heroine in One Summer’s Night is subject to a few twists of mistaken identity and love triangle confusion before her story comes full circle.
And residents and Bard buffs may recognise references to some familiar landmarks in the book including the New Place mulberry tree, and the garden at Hall’s Croft.
Visit www.herabooks.com/books/one-summers-night for more information.
The ‘book hunt’ will take place on Saturday August 3, alternatively you can follow her journey around Stratford by searching @KileyDunbar on Twitter.