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Tuesday, March 23, 1999 Published at 12:30 GMT


Novelist sues Shakespeare makers

Shakespeare in Love - but who thought of it first?

Shakespeare in Love may have won seven Oscars at the Academy Awards on Sunday - but there is one person who is not impressed with the film at all.

American author Faye Kellerman is suing the makers of Shakespeare in Love, claiming they stole the story from her 1989 novel The Quality of Mercy.

She started her legal action just under a week before the Oscars and is seeking profits from the film and unspecified damages.

[ image: Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard picked up the Oscar for best original screenplay]
Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard picked up the Oscar for best original screenplay
Named in the suit are Miramax, Universal City Studios, script publisher Hyperion Press and scriptwriters Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard.

Norman and Stoppard won an Oscar for best original screenplay for the movie on Sunday night.

Speaking after the Oscar ceremony Ms Kellerman's lawyer Barry Novak said: "It's interesting that it won the award, but as I said in the complaint it should have been for best adapted screenplay."

Miramax spokesman Andrew Stengel denied any similarities with the novel and said that the timing of the suit a suggested a publicity stunt.

"The two stories are so different that the idea that one was copied from the other is absurd."

[ image: Gwyneth Paltrow: Won best actress award for her role as Shakespeare's lover]
Gwyneth Paltrow: Won best actress award for her role as Shakespeare's lover
Best-selling author Ms Kellerman is better known for her crime thrillers including Justice, Prayers for the Dead, Serpent's Tooth and most recently Moon Music.

In both her novel and the Oscar-winning film, William Shakespeare romances a woman who also masquerades as a man in one of his plays.

The novel The Quality of Mercy tells the story of a young Jewish woman, Rebecca Lopez, who crosses swords with a Will Shakespeare while dressed as a man. The two fall in love, attempt to solve the murder of a friend and help Jews flee the Spanish Inquisition by smuggling them into London.

The film Shakespeare in Love focuses on the playwright's struggle to compose Romeo and Juliet. His lover cross-dresses her way onto the Elizabethan stage, where women were forbidden to perform.

At the Academy Awards Shakespeare In Love won best picture, best screenplay, best score, best art direction, and best costume as well as best actress for Gwyneth Paltrow and best supporting actress for Dame Judi Dench.

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